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Few know of life's beginnings : men behold 

The goal achieved the warrior, when his sword 

Flashes red triumph in the noonday sun ; 

The poet, when his lyre hangs on the palm ; 

The statesman, when the crowd proclaim his voice, 

And mould opinion on his gifted tongue : 

They count not life's first steps, and never think 

Upon the many miserable hours 

When hope deferred was sickness to the heart ; 

They reckon not the battle and the march, 

The long privations of a wasted youth ; 

They never see the banner till unfurled. 

What are to them the solitary nights 

Passed pale and anxious by the sickly lamp, 

Till the young poet wins the world at last 

To listen to the music long his own ? 

The crowd attend the statesman's fiery mind 

That makes their destiny ; but they do not trace 

Its struggle or its long expectancy. 

Hard are life's early steps ; and, but that youth 

Is buoyant, confident, and strong in hope, 

Men would behold its threshold, and despair. 




Some Secrets of Success and Power. 



" When I asked an iron-master," says Emerson, " concerning the slag and cinder 
in railroad iron, his answer was : ' There is always good iron to be had. If there was 
cinder in the iron, it was because there was cinder in the pay.' " 

" A little of the inevitable is worth more than much power merely to push and 



TRUTH is as old as the world. As no two, however, see 
exactly the same rainbow, so no truth presents itself to all 
alike. So much has been written, we are told, that it is no 
longer possible even to appear original. Yet all will agree 
that the manner of presenting old truths is of the first im- 
portance. " The difference in men consists not so much in 
mere knowledge, after all, as in the ability to reproduce 
knowledge that power of the mind which assimilates, tests, 
and pronounces its own verdict on all the waifs of idea which 
are borne to it from the minds of others." 

Many of us can understand the feeling which prompted 
him who, failing to find in his library the book he wanted, 
went to work and made one. On the other hand, at rare 
intervals we have found the book we wanted as well, only to 
rise from its perusal with a keener appetite for others like 
it. One can hardly read certain books without instinctively 
wishing for more like them. Such books are " never crowded, 
and never crowd." Of such there cannot be too many. Men 
love Raphael none the less because they admire Correggio. 

No one can contemplate youth, with its beauty and power, 
its infinite hope and aspiration, without being touched to the 
heart. While from one standpoint life seems "a joy for 
ever," from another it impresses one as inexpressibly sad and 
full of pathos. As one gets on in life, and realizes more and 



more fully the lost opportunities of the irreparable past, and 
scans the horizon, limited and narrowing at best, between 
youth and old age, he longs to reach out a hand, to send out 
a voice that perchance may be heard. 

With all its buoyancy and hope and seeming assurance, 
youth has its hours of discouragement and despondency, and 
young men are often faint-hearted. They believe in all things 
else save in themselves. Too often they lack the courage 
to go out in pursuit of life's prizes and rewards. For such 
this volume has been written. At the same time, it is 
hoped it may not be found wholly wanting in hints and in- 
centives of value to those farther on. 

" My son," remarked the good old Quaker, " thee thinks 
thee has a call to preach. Has thee also considered well 
whether the people have a call to hear thee ? " 

If those for whom this book has been written shall be 
found to have " a call to hear," I shall not have laboured 
in vain. 

December 1886. 

d^fon tents. 




































It is no use running ; to set out betimes is the main point. LA FONTAINE. 
Never forget that others will depend upon you, and that you cannot 
depend upon them. DUMAS, Fils. 

Whilst we are considering when we are to begin, it is often too late to 

Delays have dangerous ends. SHAKESPEARE. 

WE are all familiar with the trite old aphorism, " Procrasti- 
nation is the thief of time ; " but there is in it, doubtless, a 
far deeper significance than some of us realize. Not alone of 
time does it rob us ; it filches away our possibilities even. 
Human life is like a kaleidoscope, its scenes for ever shift- 
ing, and never twice the same. We imagine we can do, or 
leave undone can seize to-day, or postpone till to-morrow, 
the circumstance which invites and is full of promise. The 
morrow comes, but not the same. The variation is slight, 
but permanent, like the bauble which we have tossed upon 
the receding tide, thinking we can recover it at will : we can 
almost reach it; the next surge surely will bring it in. 
Vain delusion ! We do not take into account the fact that, 


obedient to an occult, mysterious law, that which we would 
regain is already within the resistless grasp of an alien power, 
and momently receding, drawn farther and farther from us 
into the insatiate maw of the all-devouring sea. 

So with our projects in life. We hesitate to-day. All is 
not just as we would have it. To-morrow will surely bring 
our object nearer. But to-morrow it is farther away than 
ever. Yesterday it was easily within our grasp. Now it is 
virtually within the realm of the impossible. 

It seems almost incredible that so many should allow them- 
selves to be cajoled and deceived by that phantom, that 
will-o'-the-wisp, to-morrow. How true to life is that picture, 
in Mr. Charles Reade's story, of Noah Skinner, the fraudulent 

banker's clerk ! "A sleepy languor now came over him ; 

but his resolution remained unshaken ; by-and-by, waking up 
from a sort of heavy cloze, he took, as it were, a last look at 
the receipts, and murmured, ' My head, how heavy it feels ! ' 
But presently he roused himself, full of his penitent resolution, 
and murmured again, brokenly, ' I'll take it to Pembroke 
Street to morrow ; to mor row.' The to-morrow found 
him, and so did the detectives, dead." " I have spent all my 
life in pursuit of it," declares one of Hawthorne's venerable 
characters, "being assured that to-morrow has some vast 
benefit or other in store for me. But I am now getting a 
little in years, and must make haste ; for unless I overtake 
to-morrow soon, I begin to be afraid it will finally escape me." 

Doubtless one cause of the inertia so prevalent among young 
men, this lack of promptness, is the undefined feeling that 
one has infinite possessions in that commodity which men 
call time. To youth the vista is boundless, the horizon 
infinite. The thought, even if it find not expression in so 
many words, seems to be like this : " Soul, thou hast much 
goods laid up for many years." What need of haste? It 
will be time enough to grapple with life's problems by-and-by. 
The days glide noiselessly and imperceptibly on. Happy in 


an undefined hope, the present engrosses all the thought. 
The hands are empty, but the stream still hurries on. " We 
may be shipwrecked, but we cannot be delayed." And thus 
it happens that one is often well advanced upon the journey 
before he awakes to the consciousness that the horizon is 
narrowing, and that if he is to do anything in this world 
worth doing before he leaves it, it must be promptly done. 
He must bestir himself, and at once. Some fine morning he 
awakes to this fact. It occurs to him how short the distance 
is between him and "the night that cometh." How fast the 
days and months have been speeding on ! 

" Remorseless Time ! 

Fierce spirit of the glass and scythe ! what power 
Can stay him in his silent course, or melt 
His iron heart to pity ? " 

Now it is doubtful if a young man does anything really 
worthy of himself before he has had impressed upon him an 
adequate conviction of this value of time, and hence of prompt- 
ness in meeting each duty as it comes. In those famous 
" Rules " of Copperfield, where Dickens takes us so charm- 
ingly into his confidence, he makes this confession : "I have 
been very fortunate in worldly matters, many men have 
worked much harder and not succeeded half so well, but I 
never could have done what I have done without the habits 
of punctuality, order, and diligence, without the determination 
to concentrate myself on one object at a time, no matter how 
quickly its successor should come upon its heels, which I 
then formed. Heaven knows," he continues, " I write this 
in no spirit of self-laudation." Manhood is disgraced, says 
Blair, by the consequences of neglected youth. " Old age, 
oppressed by cares that belonged to a former period, labours 
under a burden not his own." One thing at least is certain, 
and that is, that nowhere is neglect or delay more annoying 
than in its influence upon a man's daily tasks. The manner 


in which these crowd and jostle each other, if allowed the 
advantage, is only too well known to us all. On the other 
hand, what so refreshing as the prompt and ready despatch 
of a duty before another conies ? It is said that in his later 
years, Mr. Drew, " Uncle Dan'l," as he was familiarly known 
in Wall Street, used to delight in nothing more than to visit 
the office of James Fisk, junior, and would sit by the hour, 
watching with eager interest the promptness and despatch 
with which that indomitable and in many ways remarkable 
man disposed of the business which accumulated on his desk 
from day to day. Webster when at Marshfield, during the 
intervals of the congressional sessions, was accustomed to rise 
at daybreak, and before the family assembled at the breakfast- 
table, had usually written twenty or thirty letters, and would 
come in saying, " Well, my day's work is done. Now I am 
ready for fishing, hunting, or anything that may come to 
hand." The same habit of "breaking the neck of the day" 
by taking Time " by the forelock " was true of Scott. 

How striking the contrast between men of this stamp and 
those who are for ever behindhand with their work ; who 
allow one thing after another to accumulate on their hands 
until a perfect chaos is the result ! Gibbon, we are told, was 
in his study every morning, summer and winter, at six o'clock. 
" Before nine o'clock in the morning," says Bowditch, " I 
learned all my mathematics." Bishops Burnet and Jewell 
commenced their studies every morning at four o'clock. 
" Whatever I have accomplished in the way of Commentary 
on the Scriptures," says Doddridge, " is to be traced to the 
fact of rising at four in the morning." Hamilton has hit off 
certain delinquents in a decidedly happy vein. " A singular 
mischance has occurred to some of our friends," he says. 
" At the instant when he ushered them into existence, God 
gave them a work to do, and he also gave them a competency 
of time ; so much time that, if they began at the right moment 
and wrought with sufficient vigour, their time and their work 


would end together. But a good many years ago a strange 
misfortune befell them. A fragment of their allotted time 
was lost. They cannot tell what became of it, but sure enough 
it has dropped out of existence ; for just like two measuring 
lines laid alongside, the one an inch shorter than the other, 
their work and their time run parallel, but the work is always 
ten minutes in advance of the time. They are not irregular. 
They are never too soon. Their letters are posted the very 
minute after the mail is closed. They arrive at the wharf just 
in time to see the steamboat off; they come in sight of the 
terminus precisely as the station gates are closing. They do 
not break any engagement nor neglect any duty ; but they 
systematically go about it too late, and usually too late by 
about the same fatal interval." And some of these same indi- 
viduals, let us add, are very good people indeed. Their inten- 
tions are excellent. In most, perhaps in all other respects, their 
character is faultless and their example wholesome. But this 
"fly in the ointment" mars fatally the symmetry of char- 
acter. And it seems to be a constitutional trait, or blemish, 
a certain omission, like that of the faculty for discrimina- 
tion in men born colour-blind. And the worst thing about 
it is, that the mischief which results is not confined to them- 
selves alone. Their friends are involved. Indeed, the results 
of their remissness radiate in an ever widening circle among 
all their friends and acquaintances. All must suffer, though 
one be to blame. Doubtless these failures bring much self- 
accusation, as well as confusion of face, to the delinquents 
themselves ; and many, no doubt, are the promises, self-made, 
of amendment made, alas, only to be broken. The usual 
helplessness of such reminds one of that graphic picture Victor 
Hugo has given us of the unfortunate fisherman caught in 
the quicksands on the coast of Brittany. The more he 
struggles to free himself, the deeper and more hopelessly he 
sinks, and the more powerless he becomes. 

Among men who have become famous, nothing has been 


more noticeable than their habit of turning every moment of 
time to good account, and thus making every scrap available. 
For upwards of half a century Jei^emy Bentham, we are told, 
devoted seldom less than eight, often ten, and occasionally 
twelve hours of every day to intense study. This was the 
more remarkable as his physical constitution was by 110 means 
strong. He was a great economist of time. He knew the 
value of minutes. The disposal of his hours, both of labour 
and of repose, was a matter of systematic arrangement ; and 
the arrangement was determined on the principle that it is a 
calamity to lose the smallest portion of time. 

The following picture of Dr. Burney, busied with his cele- 
brated work, " The History of Music," is from the pen of his 
daughter : " The capacious table of his small but commodious 
study exhibited, in what he called his chaos, the countless 
stores of his materials. Multitudinous, or rather innumer- 
ous, blank books were severally adapted to concentrating 
some peculiar portion of the work. And he opened an 
enormous correspondence, foreign and domestic, with musical 
authors, composers, and students. And for all this mass of 
occupation he neglected no business, he omitted no duty. 
The system by which he obtained time that no one missed, 
yet which gave to him lengthened life independently of 
longevity from years, was through the skill with which, 
indefatigably, he profited from every fragment of leisure." 

Youth is too apt to squander, fancying that, do what one 
may, there will be enough left. It is only when the water 
in the bucket begins to get low that many realize their loss. 
When the rope becomes so worn that only a few strands 
remain, the few begin to seem very precious. Great fortunes 
have sometimes seduced their possessors to ruinous profusion. 
Fatal mistake, always repented of, but always too late. 

"When we have deducted," says Johnson, "all that is 
absorbed in sleep, all that is inevitably appropriated to the 
demands of nature, or irresistibly engrossed by the tyranny 


of custom ; all that passes in regulating the superficial 
decorations of life, or is given up in the reciprocations of 
civility to the disposal of others ; all that is torn from us by 
the violence of disease, or stolen imperceptibly away by 
lassitude and languor, we shall find that part of our duration 
very small of which we can truly call ourselves masters, or 
which we can spend wholly at our own choice." Years rush 
by us like the wind. We cannot see whence the eddy comes 
or whither it is tending. In the words of old Herrick : 

" Time flies away fast ; 
The while we never remember 

How soon our life here 

Grows old with the year 
That dies with the next December." 

It was because Nelson attended to detail in respect of 
time that he was so uniformly victorious. "I owe," he 
said, " all my success in life to having been always a quarter 
of an hour before my time." " Every moment lost," said 
Napoleon, "gives an opportunity for misfortune." 

Some one has called attention to the fact that our late 
war illustrated on several occasions the military virtue of 
celerity of movement ; but the writer is of the opinion that 
there was no instance of a campaign being decided by the 
forced march of an entire army and consequent surprise of 
the enemy. For this rapidity the first Napoleon was espec- 
ially noted. In 1805 he swept suddenly, with a large corps, 
across France, from Boulogne to the Rhine, and took the 
Austrians so by surprise at Ulm that he almost finished the 
campaign by a single blow. 

When one takes into consideration the climate, one of the 
most extraordinary marches, as well for the immediate and 
remote effects of its rapidity as for the rapidity itself, was 
that of Wellington in India, when, by going seventy-two 
miles with only one interval of rest and sleep, he was en- 


abled to gain the victory of Assaye. He thus describes it : 
" Starting at three in the morning, the troops went twenty - 
five miles, and halted at noon. Then I made them lie down 
to sleep, setting sentinels over them ; and at eight they 
started again, marching till one at noon the next day, when 
we were in the enemy's camp/' 

There is no man living, says Todd, who might not be 
a punctual man ; and yet there are few who are so to any- 
thing like the degree to which they ought to attain. It is 
vastly easier to be a little late in doing everything. It is 
not so easy to be a prompt, punctual character ; but it is a 
trait of inestimable value to yourself and to the world The 
punctual man can do twice as much, at least, as another 
man, with twice the ease and satisfaction to himself and 
Avith equal satisfaction to others. Lord Brougham, who 
presided in the House of Lords and the Court of Chancery, 
who gave audience daily to -barristers and found time to 
write reviews, to be at the head of at least ten associations 
which were publishing works of useful knowledge, was so 
punctual that when these associations met he was uniformly 
there when the hour of meeting arrived, and was in his place 
in the chair. 

It has been wisely said that if one loves life he will not 
squander time, for that is the stuff life is made of ; and a dis- 
tinguished authority has declared that whatever knowledge 
one does not solidly lay the foundation of before he is 
eighteen, he will never be master of while he breathes. The 
secret of success lies in this, one must learn to plot like an 
old man and execute like youth. Remember always that the 
will is weak, not in resolving, but in executing. An officer 
of the Orleans regiment having been sent to Louis XIV. with 
a despatch announcing a victory, demanded the Cross of the 
Order of St. Louis. " But you are so young," objected the 
monarch. "Sire," rejoined the officer, "the men of the 
Orleans regiment are not in the habit of living long ! " For 


life in general, says a trenchant writer, there is but one 
decree : "Youth is a blunder, manhood a struggle, old age a 
regret." "But," he truly adds, and the fact is not without 
encouragement and inspiration, " almost everything great has 
been done by youth." The greatest captains of ancient and 
modern times both conquered Italy at five and twenty. 
Youth overthrew the Persian empire. Gaston de Foix was 
only twenty-two when he stood victor on the plain of 
Ravenna. Gustavus Adolphus died at thirty-eight. When 
Maurice of Saxony died at thirty-two, all Europe acknow- 
ledged the loss of the greatest captain and the profoundest 
statesman of the age. John de Medici was a cardinal at 
fifteen, and was pope, as Leo X., at thirty-seven. Raphael's 
Madonnas were all painted and his immortal works all 
finished before thirty-seven. Sir Philip Sidney, said to be 
the brightest figure of the Elizabethan era, and the most 
complete embodiment of all the graces and virtues which can 
adorn or ennoble humanity, died before he was thirty-two. 
Francis Bacon, both admired and condemned, wrote a re- 
markable essay on the state of Europe when he was eighteen 
years old, at twenty-nine was Queen's Counsel, and was 
knighted at the age of forty-two. Edward Hyde, Earl of 
Clarendon, entered Parliament at thirty-two ; was Chancellor 
of the Exchequer and raised to the dignity of knighthood 
before he was thirty-six. Gibbon entered Parliament at 
thirty-seven, and two years later gave to the world the first 
volume of his history. Chatterton died at eighteen, Shelley 
at thirty, and Byron at thirty-seven. It is said that the 
finest artillery officer in the late Confederate service was 
Major Pelham of Stuart's cavalry, a young man of thirty -two. 
Pitt commenced his long dictatorship at twenty-four. Alex- 
ander the Great died at thirty-three ; and Napoleon had 
achieved all his victories at thirty-seven. At thirty-three 
Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence ; and Ham- 
ilton helped to frame the Constitution of the United States 

(79) 2 


at thirty. But enough. Is it not quite manifest that the 
history of greatness is the history of youth ? 

It is the unexpected which always happens, we are told. 
It is a fact singular and striking enough, surely, when one 
thinks upon it, that, although a man can with skill and 
science and piercing intellect scan the most distant future, 
and predict with unerring certainty the very second when an 
eclipse, for instance, shall occur, he, at the same time, never 
knows what is just around the corner, and cannot possibly 
tell you what an hour may bring forth. " There occur from 
time to time in human life," says Arnold, " signal moments 
which become the landmarks of its history. These are 
indeed the momentous moments of life. They come upon 
us unawares. The air is charged with no sense of oppression 
and awe. There is no visible sign to the most observant or 
to the most superstitious. The ' moment ' itself often comes 
in the most ordinary and commonplace guise. It is perhaps 
only a call, a letter, an interview, a sudden suggestion, a few 
minutes' talk at a railway station, and with suddenness and 
abruptness one section of life is clasped, and an entirely new 
page of its ledger opened up." But where is strength of 
character more finely manifest than in the power to deny 
one's self the most tempting present advantage for the sake 
of that dim and uncertain future which the soul instinctively 
feels has in store still greater reward ? 

There are several instances in the life of Webster during 
his practice at the bar showing the value of promptness in 
following one's convictions upon the instant. Once he was 
engaged in a case in behalf of a poor man who, he felt sure, 
had been defrauded by the villany of a wealthy resident of 
the town in good social position. And yet, though feeling so 
sure of the man's guilt, the proof at hand was miserably 
meagre, and, as he afterward declared, he was never in his 
life more badly prepared for a case. There was no evidence, 
and what to do he did not know. Just before the case was 


called, a friend of his client came and told "Webster that he 
had just seen this wealthy man talking with a worthless 
fellow, and he had handed the latter a slip of paper in the 
entry. Webster thanked the man, and told him that was 
a pretty important thing to know, and asked him to say 
nothing about it. Presently this fellow was called to testify, 
and took the oath. During his testimony he used the 
words, " the said Brown " told him so and so. The unusual 
phrase from an ignorant man caught the quick ear of 
Webster, and it flashed upon him in an instant that he was 
being prompted from a written paper, and that this was 
the paper which had been handed him in the entry. " There 
sat Mason" (his great legal opponent), said Webster, "full 
of assurance, and for a moment I hesitated. The next 
instant, however, I said to myself, ' I will make a spoon, or 
spoil a horn ! ' I took the pen from behind my ear, drew 
myself up, and marched outside of the bar to the witness- 
stand. ' Sir ! ' I exclaimed, ' give me the paper from which 
you are testifying ! ' In an instant he pulled it out of his 
pocket ; but before he had it quite out, he hesitated, and 
attempted to put it back. I seized it in triumph. There 
was his testimony in Bramble's handwriting ! Mr. Mason 
got up and claimed the protection of the court. Judge 
Smith inquired the meaning of this proceeding. I said : 
' Providence protects the innocent when they are friendless. 
I think I could satisfy the court, and my learned brother, 
who, of course, was ignorant of this man's conduct, that 
I hold in Mr. Bramble's handwriting the testimony of the 
very respectable witness who is on the stand.' The court 
adjourned, and I had nothing further to do. Mason told his 
client that he had better settle the affair as quickly as 
possible." Truly, promptness, as well as boldness, has 
"genius, power, and magic in it." A similar promptness 
once saved the life of the first Napoleon. During his 
Egyptian campaign his life was threatened by his disaffected 


generals. Walking coolly among them, he said : " Soldiers, 
you are Frenchmen ! You are too many to assassinate, and 
too few to intimidate me." They walked away, saying, 
" How brave he is ! " 

One whose opinion is entitled to great weight has declared, 
that, as far as one can decide at such a distance of time and 
of scene, it seems all but certain that the rapid advance of 
Hannibal on Rome after the battle of Cannse, that of Henry 
of Navarre on Paris after the battle of Ivry, or that of 
Charles Stuart on London after penetrating as far as Derby, 
would have changed the course of human history. Napoleon 
used to say, that although a battle may last a whole day, 
there were generally some ten minutes in which the fate of 
the engagement was practically decided ; and his own mar- 
vellous career reveals the fact that neither his splendid 
intellectual power nor his enormous force of will was so 
potent a factor in his success as his prompt and perpetual 
activity. On his return from Spain to Paris, he rode on 
horseback eighty-five miles in five hours. After his victory 
at Rivoli, he said, "The Austrians manoeuvred admirably, 
and failed only because they did not know the value of 
minutes," a department of knowledge in which he himself 
seems to have surpassed all men. 

Let not impetuosity, however, betray you into imprudence. 
Hurry and cunning, says Colton, are the two apprentices 
of despatch and of skill, but neither of them ever learns his 
master's trade. If after due precaution has been taken, 
however, blunders do occur, be not dismayed. It is a well- 
known truth in military science, that no battle is fought 
without blunders. Good generalship practically consists in 
the comparative fewness of them. Above all, never despair. 
Among recent proverbs, or perhaps one should say, among 
modern renderings of ancient saws, is one which certainly 
commends itself for its quaintness as well as for the rare 
vein of philosophy underlying it. It is this : " Don't cry 


over spilt milk ; up, and catch the cow." It is never well to 
be too particular about carrying out one's ideal after any 
rigidly preconceived plan. One fertile in resources, if baffled 
or defeated in one direction, should be ready instantly to 
adopt whatever presents itself at hand. This has been the 
characteristic of all great leaders. In order to reach the 
mouth of the river, it may not be necessary to follow 
punctiliously all the windings of the stream. Be not too 
fastidious. Though plans be imperfect and achievement fall 
short of ideal, push on. 

" Ere perfect scheme of action thou devise, 
Will life be fled." 

Schiller has written nothing truer than that. 

This habit of promptness is invaluable to all public men. 
Others soon learn to rely upon such ; and a fine reputation 
in this regard is worth a great deal. The statue of Franklin 
was about to be unveiled in Printing House Square. The 
hour fixed was twelve o'clock. A few minutes before twelve 
it was noticed that all who were to take part in the ceremony 
were present save a certain well-known clergyman of the 
city. As the important moment approached, fears were ex- 
pressed that there might be a disagreeable delay. At this 
juncture Horace Greeley interposed. " Gentlemen," said he, 
" there is no cause for uneasiness. I know the man. If 

Dr. isn't dead, or if some member of his family isn't 

dead, he'll be here in time." This was certainly reassuring. 
The confidence, however, was not misplaced. Just on the 
stroke of twelve the doctor entered, saying he would have 
been there at least some minutes earlier had he not been 
unexpectedly detained by a blockade in the street. Now, 
one cannot but feel that a reputation like that is worth 
having. " We are all so indolent by nature and by habit," 
says Todd, " that we feel it a luxury to find a man of real, 
undeviating punctuality. We love to lean upon such a man, 


and we are willing to purchase such a staff at almost any 
price. It shows, at least, that he has conquered himself." 
A very good rule laid down by the same author is this : 
When there are two things for you to do, one of which must 
be done, and the other is what you very much desire to do, 
be sure to begin tlie former first. Failure to observe this 
rule, most of us can doubtless testify, has far too often been 
disastrous to punctuality. 

It does not surprise one so much that punctuality should 
be so striking a trait in the character of the clergyman to 
whom Mr. Greeley referred, when one discovers it to be the 
result not only of training and self-discipline, but of con- 
science as well ; for in a prominent periodical, in writing 
upon this very theme, we find him classing a want of punctu- 
ality among "the minor immoralities." "Certainly," he 
says, " punctuality is among the highest virtues possible to 
man. The want of it shows a regardlessness of other people's 
property and other people's feelings. In business, no matter 
what his other qualities, if this be lacking all one's affairs are 
liable to get into disorder. If a man has no regard for the 
time of other men, why should he have for their money ? 
What is the difference between taking a man's hour and 
taking his five dollars'? There are many men to whom each 
hour of the business day is worth more than five dollars. It 
is no apology for one to say he does not intend to do harm. 
Thieves are not generally malignant." 

It has been said of Howard the philanthropist, that he had 
never been a minute under or over the time of an appoint- 
ment, so far as it depended upon himself, for six and twenty 
years ; and that he never continued at a place or with a per- 
son a single day beyond the period fixed for going, in his 
whole life. This really seems like carrying things a little to 
the extreme, to say the least. Now, as regards this punctil- 
iousness, the appearing on the exact stroke of the clock, and 
never a minute over or under an appointment, there may 


be, not unjustly, a difference of opinion. Always to be in 
season should be the inexorable rule ; but after that, to 
make one's appearance a few minutes earlier would doubtless 
be quite as convenient many times as to rigidly compel one's 
self to appear on the exact stroke of the clock. A promi- 
nent American statesman, observes a writer in the London 
Globe, was said to take a pride in always knocking at any 
door within which he had an engagement precisely with the 
first stroke of the clock, or with the very tick of his watch. 
"Perhaps," he continues, "if that wondrous wise statesman 
had taken the trouble to ' tot up ' all the odds and ends of 
time he mus't have wasted in securing this pettifogging pre- 
cision, he would have found that, whatever he might have 
done for other people's time, he had really been as wasteful . 
of his own as the veriest sloven in this way may be supposed 
to be on the showing of very exemplary people, as waste- 
ful, for instance, as Lord Palmerston, who was known to 
drop in to a public dinner four hours after the appointed 

When Boswell gave his fashionable dinners in Welbeck 
Street, the guests were always given to understand that 
time must be observed to the minute, and that if they were 
not there, dinner must proceed without them. It was not 
often that folks came late, for most people can be punctual 
when they know it is expected of them. On one occasion, 
however, it happened to be the astronomer-royal who came 
in half a minute or so behind the appointed dinner-hour, and, 
as ho no doubt expected, found the guests coming down the 
staircase to the dining-room. " I trust, Mr. Friend," said 
the host in greeting him, "that in future you will bear in 
mind we don't reckon time here by the meridian of Green- 
wich, but by the meridian of Welbeck Street." That sort 
of thing may be all very well when it is clearly understood 
that, in an auctioneer's phraseology, it is to be dinner-time 
" prompt ; " but it is not every host who can muster the 


hardihood for such rigidity, even though the guests may 
not be astronomers - royal. Most people would agree with 
Dr. Johnson in his well-known dictum on the point 
" Ought six people to be kept waiting for one 1 " asked Bos- 
well. "Why, yes," said Johnson; "if the one will suffer 
more by your sitting down than the six will by waiting." 

Where one is known to be incorrigible, however, and 
delibei'ately presumes upon his own importance or his host's 
good-nature, the remedy is at hand, and simple. Beau 
Brummell was of this sort. Among his other follies Brum- 
mell had that of choosing to be always too late for dinner. 
Wherever he was invited, we are told, he liked to be waited 
for. He thought it was a proof of his fashion and conse- 
quence ; and the higher the rank of his entertainer, the later 
was the arrival of this impudent parvenu. The Marquis of 
Abercorn had been repeatedly annoyed in this way. At 
length he resolved to bear it no longer. Accordingly, having 
again invited Brummell to dine, he gave strict orders to the 
servants to have dinner on the table punctually at the time 
appointed. The servants obeyed, and " Brummell and the 
cheese arrived together." The " wondering beau " was 
desired by the master of the house to sit down. No apology 
was made. With the utmost coolness, however, the latter 
simply added, " I hope, Mr. Brummell, cheese is not disagree- 
able to you." It is said that Brummell was never late at 
that house afterward. 

Stuart Blackie, in his valuable little work on Self- 
Culture, truly says : " Nothing commends a young man so 
much to his employers as accuracy and punctuality in the 
conduct of business." And no wonder. On each man's 
exactitude in doing his special best depends the comfortable 
and easy going of the whole machine. In the complicated 
tasks of social life, no genius and no talent can compensate 
for the lack of obedience. If the clock goes fitfully, nobody 
knows the time of day ; and if your allotted task is a neces- 


sary link in the chain of another man's work, you are his 
clock, and he ought to be able to rely on you. "The 
greatest praise that can be given to the member of any 
association," he continues, " is in these terms : This is a man 
ivho always does wlwt is required of him, and who always 
appears at the hour when he is expected to appear" 

Appointments become debts. I owe you punctuality if I 
have made an appointment with you, and have no right to 
throw away your time if I do my own. The daughter of 
James Peale, the famous painter, relates the following inci- 
dent to show that the wife of Washington emulated her 
husband in punctuality : " My father had an engagement 
to paint a miniature of Mrs. Washington in Philadelphia, 
the general being then out of town. He was obliged to go 
to her house, and the appointment for a sitting was arranged 
at seven o'clock in the morning. My father arrived at the 
house, and taking out his watch he found he was exactly on 
time. The thought then struck him that possibly it might 
be early to disturb a lady, and he decided to give ten 
minutes' grace before knocking at the door. He accordingly 
walked the pavement, and at the end of ten minutes pulled 
out his watch and rang the bell. He was ushered into the 
parlour, and Mrs. Washington accosting him drew out her 
watch and said she had given her orders for the day, had 
heard her daughter take her lesson on the harpsichord, 
and had read all the morning papers, and after all this had 
been waiting for him ten minutes." The Countess of Bur- 
ford for the last few years of her life had to ride almost 
constantly on horseback upwards of sixteen miles to and 
from church ; yet neither frost, snow, rain, nor bad roads 
were sufficient to detain her at home, nor to prevent her 
being there before the worship began. The emphasis here 
placed upon this matter of scrupulous promptness in meeting 
an appointment may seem to some unnecessary, or at best 
not greatly important ; yet Dr. Fisk has declared, " I give it 


as my deliberate and solemn conviction, that the individual 
who is habitually tardy in meeting an appointment will 
never be respected or successful in life." 

Every one must have been impressed with the fact that 
there are some men who seem to have no decision of char- 
acter. Where this is lacking, promptness is out of the 
question. Their manner in a great crisis is "like the 
irresolution of the sea at turn of tide." What object more 
pitiable than a man who never seems to know his own mind? 
As Webster once said of an opponent, "This man neither 
advances nor recedes, he simply ' hovers.' " Nothing can 
possibly be more exasperating, under certain critical circum- 
stances, than this perpetual vacillation. A man of this 
stamp can never be said really to belong to himself. He is 
for ever at the mercy of every chance current that may 
overtake him. Perpetually swayed from his purposes, he 
becomes a perfect football of fortune. Such, too, are ever 
bemoaning their fate. Had circumstances been otherwise, 
what might they not have done ! Thus " days are lost 
lamenting over lost days," instead of one's seizing lustily the 
actual fact which confronts him, and compelling it to serve 
him ; or smiting resolutely the circumstance which environs, 
and making it his slave. How in contrast with this vacilla- 
tion is the fine, prompt intrepidity of certain other men. 
Their aims may be questionable ; their projects may indeed 
be evil ; but half-hearted goodness is never a match for 
evil in dead earnest. The very presence of a strong, prompt 
man seems to make itself felt at once. Difficulties slink 
away and cower out of sight like belaboured hounds. He 
seems in league with the very "stones of the field." How 
refreshing such a presence ! It is like a tonic. We love to 
be near such. The very atmosphere seems charged with the 
presage of success. Such men call forth our homage as if 
by instinct the moment they appear. We rely on them at 
once, without pausing to question why. This, doubtless, 


accounts for the marvellous sway that certain bold, bad men 
have from time to time held over their fellows in all ages 
of the world. Not that this was necessary. Arm virtue 
with the same weapons, and with its vantage-ground it 
would inevitably win. But goodness and vacillating timid- 
ity can never hope to outwit vice and prompt, unerring 

While Barry the painter was a young man residing at 
Dublin, an incident occurred which strikingly illustrates the 
character of the man. He was brought into contact with 
some young men of dissipated habits, who on several occa- 
sions enticed him to form one of their tavern parties. As he 
was returning home late at night from one of these carousals, 
a sudden impression came to him of the folly of his course, 
in thus wasting the time which might so much more properly 
be employed in laying the foundation of his future re- 
spectability and independence. Distrusting, perhaps, his 
own power to carry out any resolution he might make to 
deny himself the gratification which he had the means of 
purchasing, and certain that the most effectual preventive 
would be to rid himself of the means at once, he took all his 
money, which was probably at that time no great sum, and 
threw it into the Liffey, and then shut himself up with great 
perseverance to his professional studies ! 

" The flighty purpose never is o'ertook, 
Unless the deed go with it." 

It was the sudden conviction of this truth that had come 
home to the young painter. The resulting deed was not less 
than heroic. Like Caesar's, it was a burning of bridges. 
Knowing this, one ceases to wonder at his subsequent 
success. That might have been counted on as almost a 
mathematical certainty. 

Some one has declared the resolute casting out of a single 
bosom sin to be equivalent to a liberal education. The same 


might almost be said of the conquest of a single wasteful 
habit ; for surely almost any man can understand somewhat 
of the reflex influence of every prompt conquest of that which 
is unworthy of himself. He has found it at war with his 
nobler self too often not to realize how persistently it tends to 
lower his ideal and mar his work. And doubtless he has 
also found each triumph to be to him as so much added 
capital. " There is no moment like the present," writes Miss 
Edgeworth ; " not only so, there is no moment at all, no 
instant force and energy, but in the present. The man who 
will not execute his resolutions when they are fresh upon 
him, can have no hopes from them afterward. They will be 
dissipated, lost in the hurry and skurry of the world, or 
sunk in the slough of indolence." There is much truth in 
that. Surrounded as one is by so many distractions, im- 
pelled by so many motives for doing this or that or the 
other, where there are so many things one would like to do, 
if it were best, it becomes a matter of no small moment and 
concern to decide wisely as to that which shall receive one's 
attention and that which should be let utterly alone. In the 
realm of knowledge, for instance, the area has grown so vast 
that one must rigorously choose his specialty in order to be 
truly effective in any direction. " The secret of being 
learned," said Helvetius, " is bravely to determine to be 
ignorant of many things in which men take pride." Let 
one, for instance, read the best authors, and he may safely 
ignore the others. They are simply duplicates. It is best 
for one who wishes properly to understand what is greatest 
in human writings, says an eminent authority, to avoid 
mercilessly all second-rate matter, however good. "I have 
not read that book." Let one be frank and dare to make a 
confession like that, if he mean to get on. "The better is 
always an enemy to the best." The channel must be 
narrowed that the stream may flow in a rapid current and 
fall with great impression. It has well been said that the 


mechanical reading of all the standard literature would 
require more than three thousand years. Why should one 
attempt it just yet ? The present writer once remarked to 
one of his instructors, a well-known Hebrew scholar, whom 
he sometimes met in a great library, that such places often 
exerted a depressing influence upon him, as the realization 
came that there were so many books in the world that one 
could never hope to read. "Ah, but that feeling never 
troubles me," was the instant and cheery response. " I 
know I never can read them all, but it is a comfort to feel 
that I can browse around as much as I please." What a 
wonderful sense of relief that remark conferred ! It revealed 
a new standpoint. That man understood the art of " putting 
things." To know that we do not know what we do not 
know, and to know that we do know what we do know, says 
Confucius, that is wisdom indeed. 

Hesitation is fatal to enterprise. It is right here that 
many men fail. They see their course, the way is plain ; 
and yet they stand upon the brink and hesitate. Now, the 
only way for a man to do anything worth doing in this 
world is, as Sydney Smith says, to plunge in and scramble 
through as best he can. One of the famous rules of Alex- 
ander, and one to which he rigidly adhered, was, never to 
avoid doing anything because of the short bodily trouble it 
might occasion. It is easy to discern in this one great 
secret of his marvellous success. A certain morbid intro- 
spection seems to hold some men back. A man begins to 
analyze his motives, perhaps ; or possibly all of his sur- 
roundings are not up to his ideal, and he begins to analyze 
these. Now, this analysis is like a wet blanket thrown upon 
the ardour of his resolves. Then self-consciousness comes 
in and floors him. It is probable that even the finest spirits 
have been conscious at times of a certain indefinable hesita- 
tion before making the important venture which is to win 
them success. The difference between them and those who 


fail is, that the one promptly and resolutely conquers the 
dread, while the other allows himself to be conquered by it. 
"Nothing," said Mirabeau, "is impossible to the man who 
can will. Is that necessary 1 That shall be. This is the 
only law of success." There is a fine and striking sentence 
in the Book of Proverbs which most of us would do well to 
remember : " Let thine eyes look right on, and let thine eye- 
lids look straight before thee." Herein lie all the elements 
of strength. Many a man has looked his soul in the face, 
and, distrusting his own powers, has ignobly given up the 
whole battle in despair, and made a failure of life, when 
success was right at hand. A treacherous self-consciousness 
was no doubt at the bottom of it. Let a man forget himself 
and how he is ivorking altogether, if he would succeed. 

This singular apathy, or dread, or hesitation to which we 
have referred, which comes upon even the rarest spirits at 
times in such an unaccountable manner, is not usually 
fear, to say the least. It is easy to see this, and to detect 
the difference, although in what this difference lies one may 
not be able exactly to tell. One thing, however, is evident. 
The " native hue of resolution " has been " sicklied o'er with 
the pale cast of thought." This, we say, is manifest. But 
this is not fear. In proof of this, let a great crisis come 
suddenly upon a man at such a juncture. The emergency 
confronts him, and must be met. An accident has happened 
to his neighbour ; a fellow-man in great peril must be rescued. 
The miners are imprisoned in the shaft. His comrades, 
with death staring them in the face, are held fast in the 
tunnel ; he must do something, and that now. Instantly 
self-consciousness disappears. The soul is roughly shaken 
out of its shrinking, cringing attitude, and springs at once 
to the rescue. The deed of an unknown man becomes the 
deed of a hero. His name is on every one's lips, and all 
hearts are exultant at the revelation of the latent heroism of 
which our poor, weak humanity is capable. Thus again and 


again have men " forgot themselves into immortality." It is 
the forlorn hope that reveals the hero. The great crises of 
our lives drive us out of ourselves, and reveal the nobler soul 
which lay behind the weak, shrinking, unworthy timidity 
which held us back. 

This peculiar hesitation of which we have spoken is doubt- 
less a constitutional trait in many instances. At least, this 
is almost always true of men. It is rarely thus with women. 
Man is proverbially a reasoning animal, while woman is 
governed largely by her intuitions. Howells notes this dif- 
ference in one of his fictions. " Our sense of details," he 
says, " our fatal habits of reasoning, paralyze us ; we need 
the impulse of the pure ideal." This, he holds, we can get 
only from woman. Noting the contrast between two of his 
characters, he says : " He had a man's dark prevision of the 
means, and she had a heavenly scorn of everything but the 
end to be achieved." Certain great military leaders have 
seemed to combine both traits. No one, for instance, was 
more scrupulous in attention to details than Napoleon ; and 
no one, on the other hand, seemed to have a more exultant 
scorn of danger when the hour came for carrying out his 
plans. Grant, who resembled him more closely than any 
other military leader of modern times, was like him in this. 
Sherman, in a remarkable letter, honourable alike both to the 
head and heart of the writer, in which he pays Grant such 
a noble tribute, after referring to his careful preparation 
before a battle, goes on to say : " You then went into battle 
as if the event of possible defeat had never for a moment 
entered your thought. I can compare it to nothing," he 
beautifully adds, " but to the faith of a Christian in his Sav- 
iour. It was this that gave us confidence." 

It must have cost Caesar many anxious hours of delibera- 
tion, says Foster, before he decided to pass the Rubicon; 
but it is probable he suffered but few to elapse between the 
decision and the execution. "And anyone of his friends 


who should have been apprised of his determination and 
understood his character would have smiled contemptuously 
to hear it insinuated that though Caesar had resolved, Csesar 
would not dare ; or that though he might cross the Rubicon, 
whose opposite bank presented to him no hostile legion, he 
might come to other rivers which he would not cross; or 
that either rivers or any other obstacles would deter him 
from prosecuting his determination from this ominous com- 
mencement to its very last consequence." Let us never for- 
get that a prompt action is an inspiration in itself. It is 
contagious. Its influence is that of a clarion note or a bugle 
call. It is Sheridan plunging the rowels into his steed, 
halting the panic-stricken soldiers, and by his own indomitable 
courage promptly turning the tide of battle and winning the 
day. One finds a similar inspiration in certain short, sharp, 
bristling sentences which hold within them truths that are 
masters of the world. " In the hot haste of business, in the 
perilous scenes of temptation, in the dark hours of pain and 
sorrow, men will not listen to long arguments." The terse, 
prompt, pregnant sentence is what men need. 

Of the "dangerous ends" that wait upon " delays," whole 
volumes might be written. The brakeman fails to signal 
the oncoming train ; the courier bearing the reprieve dallies 
at the inn, carousing with his boon companions until the 
life of the poor fellow which he held in his hands is the for- 
feit paid. There is ten minutes' delay of the telegram, the 
note goes to protest, and financial ruin stares the victim in the 
face. Csesar, on his way to the senate house, delays reading 
the message which would have saved his life. Plutarch tells 
us that when Archias, the polemarch at Thebes, dissolved in 
wine and pleasure, received from his pontifical namesake at 
Athens a full and particular account by letter of the con- 
spiracy of Pelopidas and the exiles, who were even then 
counting the minutes ere they struck the blow, although 
the messenger expressly urged his excellency to read the 


missive forthwith, as the contents were of instant import, 
Archias only smiled a tipsy smile and said, " Business to- 
morrow." Then he put the unopened letter under his pillow, 
and resumed his colloquy with his host, Philidas, who was 
in the plot, and who was taking good care to ply the pol- 
emarch with wine. Business to-morrow. Alas ! for him no 
morrow was to come. Similar instances fill the pages of 
history. To guard against these perils of delay, most strin- 
gent measures have at times been adopted. We owe our 
familiar phrase "post-haste" to a measure of this kind. In 
the sixteenth century there were no post-offices in England ; 
government couriers were the only bearers of letters, except 
the common carriers, whose principal business was the convey- 
ance of parcels. These couriers were under martial law, and 
in the time of Henry VIII. were subject to the penalty of 
hanging for delay upon the road with their despatches. The 
letters of those days were consequently sometimes orna- 
mented with the sketch of a gallows, with a courier thereon 
suspended. Underneath was the admonition : " Haste, post, 
haste ! Haste for thy life !" 

There is no denying the fact that at times downright fear, 
a real want of moral courage, is at the root of many a fail- 
ure. And fear is a very potent factor where it really exists. 
Perhaps no one is always and absolutely exempt. Dr. John- 
son tells us that when Charles V. read upon the tombstone 
of a Spanish nobleman, " Here lies one who never knew 
fear," he wittily said, " Then he never snuffed a candle with 
his fingers!" But it is a man's own fault if he allow his 
fear to conquer him. Like Caesar's officer, though with 
blanched cheek, one must advance with firm tread. Appre- 
hension sometimes comes from looking too far ahead. 

How few of us really live in the present ! Most of us are 
perpetually saddened by looking back upon the past, or 
filled with apprehension from looking forward into the dim 
and shadowy future. We are crippled in our exertions be- 

(79) 3 


cause we fail to seize vigorously upon the present. Let us 
learn to live now. Sydney Smith insists that the great 
remedy for melancholy is to "take short views of life." 
Why not 1 Surely it would rid a man of much of that need- 
less apprehension so fatal to the fullest success. 

The calmness of mind conferred by this habit of prompt- 
ness is not to be overlooked. To say nothing of the dangers 
of delay, the serenity which is the inseparable companion of 
despatch is a luxury to which the disorderly man is an entire 
stranger. But it confers still more than this : it gives weight 
to character. That was a wise maxim of the Duke of New- 
castle "I do one thing at a time." 

Hunt, the artist, in his entertaining little volume, "Talks 
about Art," among other valuable suggestions to young 
artists, says, " Vitalize your work. Look for the round, but 
look for the square within the round. Chop it out with an 
axe, and sand-paper it afterward !" Would not this secret, 
once learned and practised, vitalize all work? It is surely 
a secret which successful literary workers, at least, acquire 
early. Promptness seizes the burning, throbbing thought in 
the rough ; chops it out rudely, it may be it matters little 
so it be secured; then art may "sand-paper" it at leisure, 
caress it into beauty, and impart its nameless charm. Floors 
and flooring are of little moment, provided the pottery come 
out well glazed. 

Many an interesting instance might be given to show the 
advantage to its possessor of ready wit and promptness in 
repartee. The apt reply, the prompt retort, has often en- 
abled one to come off with flying colours, even in face of 
threatened defeat. A prompt and happy retort, moreover, 
if good-naturedly given, rarely fails to please even the one 
at whose expense it is given. But it must be prompt, to 
give zest. Even in literature, as Holmes wittily says, one 
finds it hard to get and to keep any private property in 
thought. " Other people are all the time saying the very 


things we are hoarding to say when we get ready." The 
brilliant "Autocrat," however, has certainly made sure of 
"saying" at least a few things before other people got the 
chance in any event, before they improved it. 

Charles Sumner, when in London, at a dinner given in 
his honour spoke of " the ashes" of some dead hero. " Ashes ! 
what American- English !" broke in one of the guests. " Dust, 
you mean, Mr. Sumner. We don't burn our dead in this 

" Yet," instantly replied Sumner with a courteous smile, 
"your poet Gray tells us that 

' Even in our ashes live their wonted fires.' " 

Mr. Sumner was not criticised again that evening. Surely 
one cannot fail to perceive at a glance the advantage con- 
ferred by prompt and ready response like this. And where 
in all literature will you find a better bon-mot than the reply 
of the young lady who heard her father severely criticised 
across a dinner table ? The careless critic paused a moment 

to say, " I hope he is no friend of yours, Miss L ;" and 

quick as thought she replied, with the utmost nonchalance, 
" Only a connection of my mother by marriage." 

After all, work as faithfully as one may, plan and exe- 
cute as promptly as one possibly can, it is at best but little, 
comparatively, that one can do. It seems as if all one does 
is but a " rough draft," and that always there is something 
unfinished that ought to be done. 

" Labour with what zeal we will, 

Something still remains undone ; 
Something uncompleted still 
Waits the rising of the sun." 

If life seem thus even to the most diligent, what must be 
thought of those who wilfully squander it ? Let those who 
would achieve success take the lesson to heart, that only by 
prompt and strenuous endeavour are life's prizes to be won, 
and that for lost opportunities there is no resurrection. 


"And how did Garrick speak the soliloquy last night?" 

" Oh, against all rule, my lord ; most ungrammatically. Betwixt the 
substantive and the adjective, which should agree together in number, 
case, and gender, he made a breach thus stopping as if the point wanted 
settling; and betwixt the nominative case, which your lordship knows 
should govern the verb, he suspended his voice in the epilogue a dozen 
times, three seconds and three-fifths, by a stop-watch, my lord, each 

" Admirable grammarian ! But in suspending his voice, was the sense 
suspended likewise ? Did no expression of attitude or countenance fill up 
the chasm ? Was the eye silent ? Did you narrowly look ?" 

" I looked only at the stop-watch, my lord." STERNE. 

Look well into thyself : there is a source which will always spring up 
if thou wilt always search there. MARCUS AURELIUS. 

LET it be noted that the subject of this chapter is not " Indi- 
vidualism," which, by far too often, is only another name for 
downright selfishness. Between that quality and individ- 
uality there is all the difference in the world. The latter is 
often winning and prepossessing, and always desirable ; the 
former far otherwise. Moreover, we propose to show that 
this quality of individuality is not only not to be ignored, but 
is often invaluable to one who means to get on. Take an 
illustration. Europe had been "done to death." Books of 
European travel had flooded the market The subject, worn 
threadbare, had come to be as "tedious as a tired horse" 
or a thrice -told tale, when an enterprising American con- 
ceives the idea of making the " grand tour," and telling about 


it in his own way. He does so. He puts his own intense 
individuality into his work. He travels over ground familiar 
to every one, and visits places which had been described a 
thousand times, but describes them in his own way. Every 
page, sparkling with wit, reveals the author's unique, original 
way of looking at things. The result is that Mark Twain 
and his " Innocents Abroad " become household words in two 
hemispheres, and the author's fame and fortune are made. 
Would you know the secret of it all ? Find it in individ- 
uality. From the midst of a thousand platitudes and little- 
nesses this quality steps forth, and ere the dull and listless 
eyes of commonplace have perceived what it is doing, it has 
clutched success and won the prize. 

It seems as if most of us dare not tread on ground where 
some one else has not already trod dare not be original. 
Our own thought seems not worth the utterance, our own 
deed not worth the doing, simply because it is ours. Where 
were the Miltons or Shakespeares of the race, had these ideas 
been universal 1 The Chinaman ploughs with a stick because 
his father, and his grandfather, and his great-grandfather 
before him, ploughed with a stick ; and nothing can induce 
him to forsake the old familiar ruts and crooked furrows of 
his ancestors. But we are not Chinamen. Dare to believe 
that God sent you into the world to accomplish that which 
even an angel from heaven could not do so well Individ- 
uality leaves the beaten track, but it is no iconoclast. It 
dares the unknown and unexplored. It appears, as the un- 
expected always comes, with a novelty and freshness that 
constantly surprise and charm us. Society always makes 
room for it, and its doors are opened wide. A thousand 
puerilities "strut their brief hour" to little purpose; but in- 
dividuality holds the "open sesame" before which men and 
barriers give way. How refreshing at times, amid the com- 
monplaces and platitudes of society, to come upon a frank, 
sincere, and outspoken soul 1 We are naturally so afraid of 


one another and of one another's opinion, so restrained and 
cautious and imitative in our intercourse with one another, 
held under by the iron heel of custom, that when an ingen- 
uous, untrammelled nature does appear, one having the un- 
mistakable courage of his convictions, it is a great relief. 
We feel unburdened and rested. The impression is like that 
of the grateful breath of a June morning after the thraldom 
of winter's cold. We do not mean that independence of 
established opinion which asserts itself for the sake of being 
singular, which one sometimes sees. This is the counterfeit, 
and is instantly betrayed. A nature which is " nothing if 
not critical" is a very tedious affair. On the other hand, 
there is a certain outspoken honesty of opinion which is the 
soul of sincerity, and is always engaging. When a soul 
speaks from its centre, it is instantly recognized. The " ac- 
cent of conviction" is unmistakable. And if sometimes 
opinions be wayward, or even mutinous, according to our pre- 
conceived notions of things, we give them place, and even 
welcome, because the manner of their expression relieves us 
and puts us at our ease. 

There is a certain air of abandon about this quality of 
which we have spoken, that ever carries with it to the souls 
of others the assurance of sincerity. This always wins 
its way. Men may not acquiesce, but they will not censure. 
It is like Martin Luther's " Here I stand ; I cannot other- 
wise !" And it is a curious fact that the spirit which is thus 
willing, if need be, to lose all, oftenest gains all. This 
quality in a man has a strange magnetic power, and wins 
upon every one, and that from the very start. While timid 
commonplace cowers cautiously in the background, fearing to 
venture, and fritters itself away in compliances and in- 
sincerities, individuality, with fine intrepidity, advances its 
line, stations its outposts, and reaches its goal. Its rights 
had never been acknowledged had they not been claimed ; 
but its ends have been reached so naturally and easily 


that we wonder how it was, yet cannot see how it could 
have been otherwise. The eagle ever knows his eyrie. 
There are certain men 

' ' Who walk up to fame as to a friend, 
Or their own house, which from the wrongful heir 
They have wrested, from the world's hard hand and gripe." 

There is a cry in every human soul for its individuality, 
its own identity. It. had rather be itself than be an angel 
and lose its own identity. What the world wants is indi- 
viduality. If one have peculiarities, so called, let him be 
thankful for them, so be that he train them to proper ends. 
Have prejudices ; settle some things once for all. Do not 
have again to lay the foundation. Settle some questions, 
and then go on. These very peculiarities may be strong 
points in one's character. Only see to it that they be util- 
ized in the right direction. Harness them up and make 
them work for you, lest they make against you. Fire and 
water are both admirable servants, but bad masters. So, 
too, righteous indignation is a fine thing; but fretful, uncalled- 
for anger is wasteful and exhaustive. Thus make your 
peculiarities and idiosyncrasies perpetual avenues of delight, 
rather than sources of annoyance to others. 

It is curious, if not a little surprising, when one reflects 
upon it, how many people are willing and contented to have 
their thinking done for them ; how many blindly and 
slavishly follow the opinions of other people, made for them 
ready at hand. But then, real thinking is, of course, hard 
work, and the " toil of thought " exhausting. As George 
Eliot says in " Middlemarch," " It is very difficult to be 
learned. One gets so worn out on the way to great thoughts, 
that one is often too tired to enjoy them." But all too 
common is this tendency and willingness to which we have 
referred. One easily falls into the slavish habit; and 
because, forsooth, the thought he so blindly follows is 


printed, it must needs be true. Ah, the talismanic influence 
of type ! Instead of this servitude, begin early to think 
and act for yourself. Dare to differ with your author, if 
need be. Aim to find yourself in his book. As I pass 
through the market-place, I see a thousand things I don't 
want, and have no use for. Let me demand and take what 
is mine. A clever modern essayist has called attention to 
the habit which seems to be very general, of this mere 
adhesion to received opinion ; and he declares that this 
habit in any matter is most mischievous, since it strikes at 
the root of independence of thought, and in literature tends 
to make the public taste mechanical. He further declares 
that there are certain books which are standard, before which 
the great majority of us bow the knee and doff the cap with 
a reverence that, in its ignorance, reminds one of fetich- 
worship. He thinks a good deal of this mock worship is 
due to abject cowardice ; that there is a great tendency in 
society to praise books which one has never read, simply 
because others praise them, and a deplorable absence of that 
independence of character, or individuality, Avhich dares to 
differ upon occasion, and give voice to its honest conviction. 
He admires very much the courage of Charlotte Bronte for 
confessing that she couldn't find much pleasure in Miss 
Austen's novels, at the very period when everybody pro- 
fessed to adore them ; and he alludes to a similar confession 
of Miss Martineau regarding a very famous fiction. He 
accuses Macaulay of having (without probably intending it) 
done most to promote this hypocrisy in literature, but 
thinks Macaulay himself might have been a little more 
modest in view of the fact that his own reading in certain 
directions had been to so little purpose. " When Dr. John- 
son is free to confess that he does not admire Gray's Elegy, 
and Macaulay to avow that he sees little to praise in 
Dickens and Wordsworth, why should not humbler folks 
have the courage of their own opinions ? They cannot pos- 


sibly be more wrong than Johnson and Macaulay were ; and 
it is surely better to be honest, though it may expose one to 
some ridicule, than to lie." The more we agree with the 
verdict of the generations before us on these matters, the 
more, it is quite true, we are likely to be right ; but the 
agreement should be an honest one. " As a rule," he con- 
tinues, " I suppose even people in society (the drawing- 
rooms and the clubs) are not absolutely base, and yet one 
would really think so, to judge by the fear that is enter- 
tained by them of being natural." 

The lesson of Longfellow's " Gaspar Becerra " cannot be 
insisted on too often, " That is best which lieth nearest." 
In vain shall we seek outside of ourselves for that power 
which must come alone from within. Let one not make 
the mistake of supposing anything too profound or rich for 
popular appreciation. No train of thought, says Choate, is 
too deep or subtile or grand ; but the manner of presenting it 
to untutored minds should be peculiar. It should be pre- 
sented in anecdote, or sparkling truism, or telling illustration, 
or stinging epithet ; always in some concrete form, never in 
a logical, abstract, syllogistic shape. 

Who can estimate the amount of talent lost to the world 
for the want of a little courage 1 " There is one circum- 
stance," says Sydney Smith, " I would preach up morning, 
noon, and night, to young persons, for the management of 
their understanding. Whatever you are from Nature, keep 
to it ; never desert your own line of talent. If Providence 
only intended you to write posies for rings, or mottoes for 
twelfth-cakes, keep to posies and mottoes ; a good motto for 
a twelfth-cake is more respectable than a villanous epic 
poem in twelve books. Be what Nature intended you for, 
and you will succeed ; be anything else, and you will be ten 
thousand times worse than nothing." Elsewhere the same 
author divides mankind into classes, and among others 
whom he facetiously hits off is the class which he denomi- 


nates " the Let-well-aloners, cousins-german to the Noodle, 
yet a variety, people who have begun to think and to act, 
but are timid, and afraid to try their wings, and tremble at 
the sound of their OAvn footsteps as they advance, and think 
it safer to stand still." 

Of course, the secrets of eloquence were known to men 
long before the treatise on oratory or rhetoric appeared. 
What, indeed, is a treatise but the crystallized product of 
observations on results already achieved? The fearless 
thought was uttered, the dauntless heroism displayed, the 
thunder of the beak, the lightning of the eye, the melting 
pathos of speech, had all wrought their spell upon listening 
auditories long before the books appeared telling us how 
it should be done. What but individuality impelled the 
adventurous, self-reliant spirit to thus give voice to its 
emotion and its thought, and Columbus-like to brave the 
unexplored, while other men came afterward to tell how 
the success was won ! So has it been in art, in literature, 
in science, everywhere. " Ancient Grecian art ascended by 
a stairway of two thousand years." The experiment comes 
first always. Again and again has the daring scientist, like 
Franklin braving the thunderbolt with his kite and hempen 
string, heroically taken his life in his hand before his 
brilliant achievement is recorded. There are heroisms of the 
laboratory no less than of the battlefield, and triumphs no 
less signal. That must be an enviable moment when the 
great chemist, after long waiting and patient experiment, 
scores his great victory and unlocks the hidden sources of 
comfort and enrichment to mankind. Whether in labora- 
tory, or on the verge of yawning crevasse or Alpine glacier, 
it is individuality that dares. 

Picture to yourself that voyage of Columbus over the 
unknown deep, and endeavour, if you can, to enter into his 
feelings as the strange seaweeds at length came floating by, 
and the birds of brilliant plumage were seen flitting around 


the ship, while the growing sultriness of atmosphere unmis- 
takably betokened the approaching land. " What a moment 
was that when the first projector of an eclipse saw at 
length his daring prophecy realized, or when the great law 
of gravitation first revealed itself to Newton!" Is it easy, 
think you, for one to realize the impressions with which 
Leverrier " received back from Berlin the tidings that the 
predicted planet was found;" or the feelings with which 
Copernicus upon his dying bed received the first printed 
copy of his immortal work? " He knows that in that 
volume he has rebelled against the sway of Ptolemy, which 
the scientific world had acknowledged for a thousand 

years He knows that the world will be shocked by his 

innovations upon the popular philosophies ; but he knows 
that his book is true. He is dying, but he leaves a glorious 
truth as his dying bequest to the world." That was 
another such " moment," when that " great Columbus of 
the heavens," Galileo, first raised his newly constructed 
telescope to the skies, and saw fulfilled the grand prophecy 
of Copernicus as he beheld the planet Venus " crescent 
like the moon." Cannot one almost hear, through the won- 
drous silence of that starry night, a voice saying to his 
inmost soul, " Galileo, no mortal has passed this way 

" It is easy enough for sugar to be sweet and for nitre to 
be salt," and it has been justly observed that to think is the 
highest exercise of the mind ; to say what you think, the 
boldest effort of moral courage. But no man can express 
with spirit and vigour any thoughts but his own. This was 
the secret of Rousseau's eloquence. The principal of the 
Jesuits' College one day asked him by what art he had been 
able to write so well " I said what I thought," was the 
terse reply. It would be well, doubtless, if men oftener 
had the courage to do this. In a recent number of London 
Truth, Labouchere strikes a blow at conventional art 


criticism. There are " Sir Joshuas," and " Lawrences," and 
" Romneys," and " Gainsboroughs," he says ; " some are good, 
others are bad. There are landscapes by Poussin and 
others. What is their excellence 1 I am sure that I do not 
know." If people would only be sincere, he adds, ninety- 
nine out of a hundred would admit that they do not know. 

One must learn to think for, and believe in, himself. 
He will find at every turn friends and relatives only too 
ready to volunteer advice, and urge him strenuously to the 
pursuit of this course, or that, or the other ; but after adopt- 
ing this or that course of life so zealously urged upon him, 
he will discover that these very friends have either myste- 
riously disappeared, or, if not indifferent, are utterly power- 
less to help him in the event of his defeat. Nay, rather 
let a young man fix firmly in his mind the conviction that 
no other man is either able or willing to help him. Let 
him consult his own adaptations, and follow the leadings of 
his own nature. Having found wherein his greatest strength 
lies, and the direction in which he is convinced, therefore, 
his greatest success must also lie, let him follow tenaciously 
the course thus deliberately marked out for himself. Let 
him hold inflexibly to this choice, and allow nothing to 
divert him from it. Even if he fail, he will then at least 
have the satisfaction of knowing that it is chargeable to his 
own account, and not, as is too often the case, to the folly 
of heeding the superficial and ill-considered advice of other 
people. Rest assured, however, in this course, instead of 
failure, the chances all point the other way. 

In Sherman's remarkable letter to Grant, to which refer- 
ence has elsewhere been made in this volume, occurs this 
notable sentence : " You are now Washington's legitimate 
successor, and occupy a position of almost dangerous eleva- 
tion ; but if you can continue as heretofore, to be yourself, 
simple, honest, and unpretending, you will enjoy through 
life the respect and love of friends and the homage of 


millions of human beings." Who has not known certain 
men of strong originality who always seemed to do naturally, 
and as if by instinct, exactly what should be done, and in its 
exact time and place, that happy accomplishment which 
others attain to only as the result of much experience, and 
after prolonged and laborious effort? Quintilian mentions 
one of this sort, who, being asked what rhetorical figure and 
what thought are, replied : " I do not know ; but if they 
have any relation to my subject, they will be found in my 
declamation." These men are a law unto themselves. They 
instinctively follow laws aiad rules without knowing it. 
Bonaparte was one of them men who spring at a bound to 
a full and complete development without toiling through 
the intermediate stages of learning, experience, and progress. 
It has been justly said of Bonaparte, that in all things, 
except, indeed, the possession of unlimited power, for up 
to that time he was not independent of the Directory, he 
was the same man at the beginning of his campaigns in 
Italy as he was at the peace of Tilsit. " From the moment 
of his crossing the Alps he had nothing to learn in the 
art of war." Notwithstanding all his great determinations 
were his own, Grant was never averse to availing himself 
of the ideas of others, says Badeau; "and as I must always 
repeat," he adds, " no man ever learned the lesson of ex- 
perience quicker or applied it more absolutely. But the 
suggestions of others were simply presented, and either 
accepted or rejected, as his judgment dictated ; he was 
never persuaded. And if he took up an idea that he found, 
it was so developed by his own mind that it became as 
original in reality as if he had conceived the germ. Every 
one who might be called an associate felt this. Sherman 
resented the ascription to himself of the origin of the Vicks- 
burg campaign, and has often told the story of his objection 
to the movement with loyal and splendid magnanimity." 
Men of this stamp, too, are shrewd and far-seeing, and 


know their opportunity. They are full of enterprise and 
daring ; and seem instinctively, also, to know their public. 
Depressed markets make little difference to them. In the 
midst of the worst depressions of trade one of these men 
will set his wits to work and invent something which every- 
body feels he must have, even from motives of economy ; 
and thus a demand is created, which, while it helps other 
people to save their money, enables him to make his at a 
very rapid rate. His duller companions look on in wonder 
and envy at the apparent ease with which the whole trans- 
action was accomplished and the fortune made which lay so 
nearly within their own grasp, and which they might 
have captured so easily had their faculties but been keen 
enough to see their opportunity. The fact is, the sicker 
the patient the greater the demand for certain remedies, if 
only the patient can be made to feel that the remedy will 
effect a cure, or even administer to his comfort, if you 
please. Thus, persons are often willing to pay a good round 
sum even for the sake of sympathy or simple cheer. And 
certain men have the sagacity to perceive this. As we 
have said, they know their public. Thus in the midst of 
the depressions of trade and the dulness of a hard winter 
Twain visits Washington, gives two of his characteristic 
readings, and departs a thousand dollars richer for his 
work. When Verdi was putting the finishing touches to 
" II Trovatore," he was visited in his study by a privileged 
friend for whose opinion as critic he had the highest re- 
spect. He showed him his score, and played for him the 
" Anvil Chorus " on the piano. " What do you think of 
it?" said Verdi. "Trash," cried the connoisseur. Verdi 
rubbed his hands and chuckled. " And of this, and this ? " 
he continued, playing. " Rubbish ! " replied the candid 
friend. The composer arose and embraced his friend with 
a burst of joy. " What do you mean by this ? " was asked, 
in natural astonishment. " My dear friend," responded 


Yerdi, " I have been composing a popular opera. In it I 
determined to please everybody except the great judges and 
classicists like you. Had I pleased you, I should have 
pleased no one else ; but your disdain assures me of success. 
In three months ' II Trovatore ' will be sung, roared, whistled, 
and barrel-organed all over Italy." Who doubts that Verdi 
understood his world? True, such power is rare, but men 
are willing to pay for rare things. Thus it happens that 
while platitudes and commonplace go a-begging, individuality, 
as we have said, finds a ready market even in the dullest 
times. It is surely worth something to have wares that 
possess, under all circumstances, a marketable value and 
steady demand. Who fails to see the significance of this 
factor in reckoning on success 1 

One of the most distinguished and vigorous writers of the 
day, himself a conspicuous instance of individuality, has de- 
clared : " Individual effort is, after all, the grand thing. A 
man alone can do more than a man with fifty men at his 
heels to fetter him. Committees are seldom of much use, 
and bodies and societies are sometimes a loss of strength in- 
stead of a gain. As some one has facetiously said, if Noah's 
ark had had to be built by a company, the keel would not 
have been laid yet." There is much truth in the old adage, 
that what is everybody's business is nobody's. Kingsley has 
strongly emphasized the essential nakedness of even the most 
favoured souls. Alone, he says, we must make our most 
important decisions in life, and alone we must go to the grave. 
The Germans call one of their greatest authors " The only," 
because they find none with whom to compare him. In one 
sense, and that a true one, the humblest man or woman may 
be called by the same title. When a great strong personality 
does appear, note how he takes hold upon his fellows. As 
Brooks declares, the thought, the feeling in the central man 
in a great city, touches all who are in it who think and feel. 
The very boys, he says, catch something of his power, and 


have something about them that would not be there if he 
were not in the town. Now, no man can assume such a 
position ; it must belong to him. The moment he attempts 
to play the role which belongs to another, he gets befogged. 
The mere imitator is a servile slave. Like the pupils of 
Plato, who are said to have imitated his crooked shoulders, 
the imitator is sure to pounce upon the very faults and 
defects of his model, which, blemishes as they are, are yet 
tolerated for the sake of the genius of their possessor, but 
which even he would be infinitely better without. Phillips 
Brooks has called attention to a passage in Macaulay's diary 
which he thinks is full of philosophy. " I looked through 

," he says. " He is, I see, an imitator of me ; but I am 

a very unsafe model. My manner is, I think, and the world 
thinks, on the whole a good one; but it is very near to a very 
bad manner indeed. And those clear characteristics of my 
style which are the most easily copied are the most ques- 
tionable." In further illustration of the same, the distin- 
guished rector of Trinity cites an instance which came under 
his own observation. "The obtuseness of the imitator is 
amazing," he says. " I remember going, years ago, with an 
intelligent friend to hear a great orator lecture. The dis- 
course was rich, thoughtful, glowing, and delightful. As 
we came away my companion seemed meditative. By-and- 
by he said, ' Did you see where his power lay 1 ' I felt un- 
able to analyze and epitomize in an instant such a complex 
result, and meekly I said, ' No ; did you ? ' ' Yes,' he replied 
briskly ; ' I watched him, and it is in the double motion of 
his hand. When he wanted to solemnize and calm and 
subdue us, he turned the palm of his hand down ; when he 
wanted to elevate and inspire us, he turned the palm of his 
hand up. That was it.' And that was all the man had 
seen," he adds, " in an eloquent speech. He was no fool, 
but he was an imitator. He was looking for a single secret 
for a multifarious effect. I suppose he has gone on from 


that day till this, turning his hand upside down and down- 
side up, and wondering that nobody is either solemnized or 

How accustomed one is to hearing mental products of all 
kinds spoken of as the author's children ! How suggestive 
to speak of Handel's Messiah, Raphael's Madonnas, Gibbon's 
Rome, and Hume's England ! Jeffrey once said to Macaulay, 
"Where on earth did you pick up that English style?" 
But a style like Macaulay's or that of any other great 
master of English is not " picked up : " it is the man him- 
self ; it is the result of the training of the special power of 
the individual. The romantic attraction of Macaulay's style 
had numbered among his eager readers hundreds of thou- 
sands who seldom trouble historical tomes ; and as for the 
permanent hold his solid genius had established on the 
reading world, Mr. Trevelyan sums up a page of figures with 
the statement that " within a generation of its first appear- 
ance upwards of one hundred and forty thousand copies of 
the History will have been printed and sold in the United 
Kingdom alone." Dr. Johnson's advice to give one's days 
and nights to Addison is well known. The study of the 
dii majores is of course valuable to a man ; but, after all, 
they can only bring out and modify and perfect the native 
qualities which are already his. No absolute rules can be 
laid down by which one can acquire a fine style. It is 
nascitur, non fit. The study of the great spirits may 
awaken and inspire one, however. As Charles Kingsley 
says : " Bathe your spirit in their noble thoughts as in May 
dew; and feel thereby, if but for an hour, more fair." Or, 
as another English writer advises : " Analyze the special 
beauties of great authors. Acquaint yourself with Shake- 
speare ; study his marvellous creations, his sublime thoughts, 
his great and varied powers of expression. Take down your 
De Quincey, and learn the resources of your mother-tongue. 
Compare Hazlitt's clear, cool, and somewhat hard English 

(79) 4 


with the delicate grace and humour of Charles Lamb, or 
with the earnestness and enthusiasm, the manly vigour, and 
the tenderness no less manly, of Charles Kingsley and Dr. 
John Brown. Study Macaulay. The style of these men," 
he continues, "is not the expression of the mind merely, 
but of the whole character." So is it always. It rests, 
therefore, in great measure with ourselves whether our 
style shall be good or bad. The permanence of our work 
is almost entirely dependent upon the quality of the style. 
"What we say may be very valuable, but unless we say it 
as well as it can be said, a day will come when some one 
else will say it better, and our work will be superseded." 

This quality is the secret of that charm which our favourite 
authors have for us. " I would prefer to think like Emer- 
son, but to write like Holmes," was the response of a dis- 
tinguished divine, when asked which of the two famous 
authors' styles he would wish to have. There is a certain 
individuality about every man's style, as about his features. 
It has been truly observed that if an author has not been a 
slave to others, his production will be as individual as him- 
self. As his constitutional looks and organism differ from 
those of all others, so will the construction and appearance 
of his mental product differ also. The deportment or air of 
the parent shows itself in the literary no less than in the 
literal child. The style of Burke, for instance, differs vastly 
from that of Johnson. And yet, who would willingly lose 
either? In Burke, some one has said, we see the manly 
movement of a well-bred gentleman ; in Johnson, an equally 
profound and vigorous thinker, the measured march of a 
grenadier. "We forgive the great moralist his stiff and 
cumbrous phrases in return for the rich stores of thought 
and poetry which they conceal ; but we admire in Burke, as 
in a fine antique statue, the grace with which the large 
flowing robe adapts itself to the majestic dignity of the 
person." The individuality of the producer inevitably 


appears in the production. A few notes heard, a few pencil- 
strokes seen, a few sentences read, quickly betray the com- 
poser, artist, or author. 

' ' Where'er the ocean inlet strays, 
The salt sea wave its source betrays ; 
Where'er the queen of summer blows, 
She tells the zephyr, ' I'm the rose! ' " 

The line of Apelles is not to be mistaken. Who, for in- 
stance, does not instantly recognize one of Boughton's pic- 
tures 1 Some subtle felicity of treatment or composition often 
reveals the identity of the artist and the special characteristic 
of his genius, or of his technical methods, which are unmis- 
takable. "There would seem at first sight," says Macaulay, 
" to be no more in Milton's words than in other words. But 
they are words of enchantment. No sooner are they pro- 
nounced than the past is present and the distant near. 
New forms of beauty start at once into existence, and all 
the burial-places of the memory give up their dead. Change 
the structure of the sentence, substitute one synonym for 
another, and the whole effect is destroyed." Matthew 
Arnold bears witness to what we have just been saying, in a 
recent article concerning America. He refers to an " admir- 
able essay of Sir Henry Maine," which, though not signed, 
"betrays him for its author," he says, "by its rare and 
characteristic qualities of mind and style." 

We have already remarked that no one can assume the 
position of another. By this we would not be understood to 
mean that one must not study another, or the methods of 
others. The most individual of men have been the most 
familiar with the methods of other men. Webster, we are 
told, was able to recite from memory half the orations of 
Cicero ; and it has been asserted of Michael Angelo, the most 
original of modern artists, that he knew every statue and 
painting, and the excellency of every statue and painting, in 


the world, of any master, past or present. Other minds are 
to native genius but so much nature, one among the many 
ingredients in the common soil from which by its own elect- 
ive chemistry it draws its life. " Artists all over the world 
go to Dresden and Florence and Rome to study the works 
of other artists, and still they retain their originality. The 
artists of America collect their works annually in the Acad- 
emy of Design in New York, and are themselves the most 
frequent visitors, that they may comprehend the works and 
methods of one another, and in some degree take to them- 
selves the gifts of all." 

" People are always talking about originality," says 
Goethe; "but what do they mean? As soon as we are 
born, the world begins to work upon us ; and this goes on to 
the end. And after all, what can we call our own, except 
energy, strength, and will 1 If I could give an account of 
all that I owe to great predecessors and contemporaries, there 
would be but a small balance in my favour." A most able 
and vigorous modern thinker has declared that one who 
cannot use the experience of others, and preserve at the same 
time his own originality, misses a vantage that is hard to 
over-estimate. Newton was great, he says, not near so much 
because of what he discovered as because of his ability to 
bring together and combine all that others had observed. 
"The original discoveries of Newton would have been an 
impossibility to him had he not first comprehended what 

others had wrought In the power to digest and assimilate 

the experience of others is the great difference between men. 
The experience of a thousand men becomes the experience of 
one man, and that one rises head and shoulders above his 
fellows. We do not abate one jot of our originality in learn- 
ing from others. To see a truth is to own it. Where or 
how originated, a thought is ours when we understand it. 
The right of discovery has no validity in the domain of truth. 
Bread and meat are ours when they turn to bone and muscle 


in us. As has been said, no man eats veal and becomes a 
calf, or mutton and becomes a sheep. The individuality of 
every man's body is assured by the laws of digestion and 
assimilation, but not more so than is the individuality of the 
mind by corresponding laws. The great Swedish mystic 
uttered the most sublime of uninspired truths when he said, 
" The more angels the more room. True men are never 
crowded and never crowd. The healthy mind sees the truth, 
embraces, absorbs it, and forgets to think about him who 
uttered it." He further assures us that the world's progress 
is in its accumulations, and mentions the saying of Emerson, 
that nearly half the lines in Shakespeare's dramas are bor- 
rowed in whole or in part from the writings of others, but 
were so mastered by him that Shakespeare's originality was 
unquestioned. " Doubtless what we call Homer is a com- 
bination of the best in all poets that lived before him in 
Greece. Through him the streams flowed and became one, 
and were known ever after by the name of him in whom they 
were united. Let us fear the utterance of immature, half- 
understood thoughts, but not the lack of originality." 

Could anything be more inspiring than contact with a 
master-mind? Let one read a few pages of Emerson, and 
fascinating as the author seems, and strong as the tempta- 
tion is to go on with one's reading, does he not soon find 
rising up within him, stronger, if possible, than all else, 
the impulse to go out at once and do something worthy 
of himself ere the night shuts in 1 The most vigorous and 
powerful minds have ever acknowledged their indebtedness 
to others for kindling their own fires and inspiring them 
for their work. Byron himself, and Robertson, both con- 
fess to the habit of reading the production of some vigorous 
thinker to get their minds in working trim for their own 
intellectual tasks. Gray seldom sat down to compose with- 
out first reading through some cantos of the "Faerie Queene," 
it is said; and Corneille "fired himself" with the perusal of 


"Lucan." One mind thus quickens another and illumines 
the path, and inspires us to enter ; but, as has been truly 
said, every man who would ascend the hill of the immortals 
must for the most part walk alone, unaccompanied by mortal 

The real help, then, which comes to us from great men 
would seem to lie in the fact that they evoke one's own 
life. Thus a man's mind may be roused by another, but 
he must "mould his own material, quarry his own nature, 
make his own character." And thus, too, it may happen at 
times, and often has, doubtless, that the pupil becomes at 
length even wiser indeed than his instructor. He may 
not always accept his conclusions, but he will own, " You 
awakened me to be myself; for that I thank you ! " Wher- 
ever I find myself, either in nature or the libraries of the 
world, that is mine. I may find page after page dry as 
dust. At length I find in some brief sentence, perhaps, 
myself. I gladly throw aside as worthless whole pages 
which others might value. It is by the assimilation of all 
that is best around him, allowing it to enter into the very 
fibre of his being, and to become a part of his own life- 
blood, that one comes most surely to his own true individu- 
ality. Art thus becomes to him a second nature, like the 
polished manners of well-bred men, to which Schiller refers. 
True ease always comes "from art, not chance." It will 
often happen, doubtless, that one will find his own best 
thought anticipated by some former writer ; but one need 
not be discouraged on this account. One possessed of re- 
sources of his own, and competent to think for himself, will 
neither, as Colton has put it, anathematize others with a 
pereant qui ante nos nostra dixerint, nor despair himself, 
but will rather go on, like John Hunter in physics, discov- 
ering things before discovered until, like him, he is rewarded 
with a terra hitherto incognita, an empire indisputably his 
own, both by right of conquest and of discovery. 


Holmes, in reviewing Edwin Arnold's " Light of Asia," 
remarked : " It is impossible for such an artist as Mr. Arnold 
not to remind us, whether by mere coincidence or unconscious 

imitation, of the great masters and the favourite authors 

These coincidences may amuse a reader, but they are of small 
account. All literature, we might say without unpardonable 
extravagance, lives by borrowing and lending. A good 
image is like a diamond, which may be set a hundred times 
in as many generations, and gain new beauties with every 
change. " 

It is curious to note how men of most marked individu- 
ality and most original methods have been perpetually 
influenced and swayed by some great predecessor. Each 
has the master in his eye. Napoleon dreamed of Julius 
Ctesar. Alexander the Great constantly slept with " Homer" 
under his pillow. The ideal hero of the Iliad helped to 
make the real heroes of later Greece. When Beaconsfield 
was asked in what style his official residence should be 
furnished and decorated, he said, pointing to a portrait 
of Sir Robert Walpole, one of the greatest and purest of 
England's prime ministers, "Furnish it for that portrait." 
What could be more beautiful than that utterance of 
Raphael just before he died, " I shall see Dante " ? 

After all, it is but little that others can do for one, even 
though most willing to aid and advance him. One must 
early learn to depend on himself and his own unaided 
effort. Friends, affection, and human sympathy may accom- 
pany us to the beach, but each must set sail for himself 
and steer his own ship. No one can create heroism for 
another ; it must be in himself. " We accompany the 
youth with sympathy and manifold old sayings of the wise 
to the gate of the arena," says Emerson, " but it is certain 
that not by strength of ours, nor by the old sayings, but 
only on strength of his own, unknown to us or to any, he 
must stand or fall." Like King Edward standing on the 


" little windmill hill," at the battle of Cregy, while his son, 
the Black Prince, was engaged in the hottest of the fray, 
the father can send encouraging words and admire the 
heroism of his son, but he cannot send him aid. He must 
win his own spurs. 

A brave soul, moreover, is a thing that all things serve. 
Fearless intrepidity finds the way open as it advances. 

" The distant mountains that uprear 
Their solid bastions to the skies, 
Are crossed by pathways that appear 
As we to higher levels rise." 

The great point, after all, is for one to be sure of himself. 
Let one assure himself, first of all, that he can do or say 
something which the world wants done or said, and then 
let him fearlessly act upon his conviction. As a recent 
writer has well put it in some words to would-be authors : 
" If you are planning to become an author, it will be wise 
to remember the advice of Punch to the young man con- 
templating marriage, ' Don't.' That is, don't if you can 
avoid it. Don't unless the pressure is so strong upon you 
that you can recognize yourself as really being ' called,' and 
that literature is to be the calling. Books must be written 
out of that which is in you ; and if, without such calling, a 
man sits down and says to himself, 'Go to, let us make a 
book,' so surely will the end of that book and of that man 
or woman be disappointment and emptiness." The 
same might be said of music and painting. When a youth 
came to Mozart and asked him how he should begin to 
compose, the great man advised him to wait "But," re- 
plied the youth, "you composed much earlier." "So I 
did," was the answer; "but then I asked nobody about it." 
The true poet wreaks his thought upon expression because 
he cannot help it. So with the artist. His finest concep- 
tions will not leave him until he has revealed his thought 


upon the speaking canvas. Men are thrilled with delight 
as they stand before his completed work. Ah, could they 
but see that which struggled for expression within the 
artist's soul ! Culture, training, polish, all these are good, 
but without this inner fire they are of little worth. It is the 
personality behind all else which counts. It is this which 
always takes the shortest road and the surest method. It 
is truthful, simple, natural. True individuality will not 
imitate, and cannot be imitated. There is as much differ- 
ence between the genuine and its counterfeit as between 
"the reverberation of thunder in an Alpine valley and the 
tin-rattle of the theatre." " Through every clause and part 
of speech of a right book I meet the eyes of the most 
determined of men," says Emerson. " His force and terror 
inundate every word ; the commas and dashes are all alive, 
so that the writing is athletic and nimble, and can go far 

and live long.. It makes a great difference to the force of 

any sentence whether there be a man behind it or no." It 
is well known that certain famous actors and singers have 
been made great simply by what is termed the "sympathetic" 
voice. It was this that made Rubini so famous, and which 
gave Gazzaniga the ability to sing " through your very 

Garrick's individuality revolutionized the whole dramatic 
stage. Men might condemn and criticise, but his perpetual 
and unvarying success was their answer. And what was 
his secret ? He was true to nature, true to himself. Mrs. 
Clive was one night standing at the wing, alternately weep- 
ing and scolding at Garrick's acting ; and turning away in 
anger, she exclaimed, " I believe he could act a gridiron ! " 
In King Lear, it used to be said that Garrick's very stick 
acted. When Dr. Johnson was asked his opinion of the 
reputation attained by this wonderful interpreter of Shake- 
speare, he replied, "Oh, sir, he deserves everything he has 
acquired, for having seized the soul of Shakespeare, for 


having embodied it in himself, and for having expanded its 
glory over the world." Of Massena, Napoleon declared, 
" He is not himself until the battle begins to go against 
him ; then, when the dead fall in ranks about him, are 
awakened his powers of combination, and he puts on terror 
and victory as a robe." And Wellington once said of him, 
" I do not know which was the best of the French marshals, 
but I know that I always found Massena where I least 
desired that he should be." 

This power of individuality is often strikingly manifest in 
great parliamentary leaders. It was pre-eminent- in Henry 
Clay. " It would perhaps be impossible to find in the par- 
liamentary annals of the world," says one whose own learn- 
ing and large experience in public life give great weight to 
his opinion, "a parallel to Mr. Clay in 1841, when at sixty- 
four years of age he took the control of the Whig party 
from the President who had received their suffrages, against 
the power of Webster in the Cabinet, against the eloquence 
of Choate in the Senate, against the herculean efforts of 
Caleb Gushing and Henry A. Wise in the House. In un- 
shared leadership, in the pride and plenitude of power, he 
hurled against John Tyler, with deepest scorn, the mass of 
that conquering column which had swept over the land in 
1840, and drove his administration to seek shelter behind 
the lines of his political foes." This strong personality, 
as the same authority has shown, conquers often, both 
against the right and the "heavy battalions;" as when 
young Charles Fox, in the days of his Toryism, carried the 
House of Commons " against justice, against its immemorial 
rights, against his own convictions, if indeed at that period 
Fox had convictions, and in the interest of a corrupt ad- 
ministration, in obedience to a tyrannical sovereign, drove 
Wilkes from the seat to which the electors of Middlesex 
had chosen him, and installed Luttrell in defiance, not merely 
of law, but of public decency." 


It was not adventitious circumstance that gave Secretary 
Chase his wonderful power over the financial destiny of the 
country in its hour of peril ; it was the power of individu- 
ality and sheer moral courage. He had faith in the people. 
He dared to trust them. He did trust them. " When 
every other face was clouded, he stood in the sun. The 
people met him with an equal courage, and freely gave him 
all the money he wanted." Such power is the attribute of 
a commanding personality alone. This magnetism makes 
acts and words efficient, because courage and confidence are 

" Each petty hand can steer a ship becalmed : 
But he that will govern and carry her to her ends, 
Must know his tides, his currents ; 
How to shift her sails ; what she will bear in foul, 
What in fair weathers ; what her springs are, 
Her leaks, and how to stop them ; what strands, 
What rocks do threaten her ; 

The forces and the natures of all winds, gusts, storms, and tempests. 
When her keel ploughs hell, and deck knocks heaven, 
Then to manage her becomes the name and office of a pilot." 

It has doubtless been noted by the observant reader that 
reference has repeatedly been made in these pages to the 
first Napoleon, and his life and character have been held up 
as illustrating in a striking manner many of those qualities 
which seem so essential to success. This has been done 
not blindly but advisedly, and after the most careful study 
of the man. While the author is not unmindful of the fact 
that many serious faults and blemishes serve to mar the 
symmetry of his character, and while the " fierce light 
which beats upon" his household relations in such works 
as the "Memoirs of Madame de Re"musat" must necessarily 
reveal many faults and foibles and much that is unlovely, 
yet, with due allowance for these failings, he still believes 
that the instances are extremely rare in which are combined 
in any one man so many striking and admirable qualities, 


and so many of those traits which inevitably command 
success. No life, surely, will better repay careful and dis- 
criminating study. Said an eminent man of middle age not 
long since, " If I had read the life of Napoleon when I was 
a boy, my own life might have been very different. It 
would have filled me with an ambition to make the most of 
myself." Not the least among other things for which he 
should be honoured is his noble and striking testimony to 
the divinity of Christ ; and, as Dr. Schaff justly observes, 
the logical conclusion of this master-mind may well be set 
over against the illogical denial of Christ's divinity by in- 
ferior minds. One surely discerns in this life how almost 
inevitably unremitting study and a careful culture of all the 
faculties lead to the highest places. Indeed, the hero of 
Austerlitz himself realized that his greatest triumphs were 
not those of his battle-fields. " I shall go down to posterity," 
said he, "with my Code in my hand." No one quality in 
him, probably, was more striking than his marvellous in- 
dividuality. Before this man imbecile kings, effete mon- 
archies, shams of all kinds, Avent down. Thrones crumbled, 
and royalty waited in his ante-chamber to know the will of 
this master. One who had frequently seen him at St. 
Helena relates that on one occasion, when Napoleon with 
his suite galloped through the British camp on Deadwood, 
the soldiers involuntarily and without orders fell into ranks 
and saluted him. The orders given by the English Govern- 
ment were very explicit that Napoleon should not be recog- 
nized as emperor, but simply as general. When the emperor 
was informed of this decree, he simply remarked, "They 
may call me what they please ; they cannot prevent me from 
being myself." Even Wellington thought his presence sub- 
stantially equal to forty thousand men added to the strength 
of an army. In Napier's opinion he was "the greatest 
genius and the greatest soldier that ever lived." Wellington 
himself once declared, "Napoleon was a very great man." 


And upon another occasion, "It is no impulse of vanity 
which leads me to speak so highly of my opponent ; for it 
was not I who beat him, but the determined bravery of the 
English troops and their unconquerable steadiness." 

The Allies, despite their enormous preponderance of forces, 
would willingly shrink from meeting Napoleon in person. 
They hardly ventured on any movement where he was 
present except in overwhelming masses. When in 1814 
he came to Chalons to withstand the flood of invasion, his 
generals hoped he was being followed by supports of troops. 
He coolly told them "No," and proceeded to encourage 
them by unfolding the boldness and profundity of his plans. 
But "the resistless might of Europe was setting in upon 
him, and even he could not achieve miracles. " Men may ask, 

" Upon what meat doth this our Caesar feed, 
That he is grown so great ? " 

But the real secret lay far behind all, in the great per- 
sonality, the intense individuality of the man. See the 
courage this confers as he fearlessly visits the stricken 
soldiers dying of the plague in the hospitals. Says Goethe : 
" Napoleon visited those sick of the plague, in order to prove 
that the man who could vanquish fear could vanquish the 
plague also ; and he was right. 'Tis incredible what force 
the will has in such cases : it penetrates the body and puts 
it in a state of activity which repels all hurtful influences, 
while fear invites them." That there was no mere fustian 
about this man let Emerson's words testify. " We cannot," 
he says, "in the universal imbecility, indecision, and in- 
dolence of men, sufficiently congratulate ourselves on this 
strong and ready actor, who took occasion by the beard, and 
showed us how much may be accomplished by the mere force 
of such virtues as all men possess in less degree namely, by 
punctuality, by personal attention, by courage, and thorough- 
ness His power does not consist in any wild, extravagant 


force in any enthusiasm like Mahomet's, or singular power 
of persuasion ; but in the exercise of common sense on each 
emergency, instead of abiding by rules and customs. The 
lesson he teaches is that which vigour always teaches that 
there is always room for it. To what heaps of cowardly 
doubts is not that man's life an answer ! " 

Who has not been impressed with the power of this great 
quality to dwarf all its surroundings, however stately or 
grand 1 How the mere splendour of the most massive archi- 
tecture, for instance, fades before the greater splendour of a 
great orator's personality ! All surroundings dwindle and 
become simply satellites of the central sun. It is curious, 
too, to note how men differ in this regard. As Pere Arrius 
wittily declared, " When Bourdaloue preached at Rouen, the 
tradesmen all left their shops, the smiths their forges, and 
the physicians their sick, and nocked to hear the silver- 
tongued orator. But," he added, " when I preached there 
the following year, I set everything to rights again. Every 
man minded his own business." 

How, too, this quality perpetually brightens our homes 
with its thousand artistic surprises and devices that fill us 
with ever renewed wonder and delight. What a charm it 
imparts to maidenhood ! Though its piquant caprices may 
sometimes laugh to scorn the conventionalities, in spite of 
ourselves we are obliged to admire indeed, we cannot 
help it ; for innocence and charming originality are always 

"Persons approach us," remarks a shrewd observer, "fa- 
mous for their beauty, for their accomplishments, worthy of 
all wonder for their charms and gifts ; they dedicate their 
own skill to the hour and the company with very imperfect 

result Then, when all is done, a person of related mind, 

a brother or sister by nature, comes to us so softly and easily, 
so nearly and intimately, as if it were the blood in our 
proper veins We are utterly relieved and refreshed." 


Hawthorne, in his " Scarlet Letter," touches a similar vein 
where he refers to that "mightier touch" of one coming 
after, awakening all the sensibilities and revealing the con- 
trast between " the marble image of happiness and the warm 
reality." As with metals, so with men. The magnet has 
something to give ; the steel is made to receive. Some men, 
it has been observed, have a penetrating and distributive 
personality that is felt as surely and swiftly as is the 
pungency of gums or the heat of fire ; and others are made to 
be as responsive to them as clay. The indefinite word, in 
.short, which comprehends all that draws and holds men is 
called " magnetism. " We despair of getting a clear and full 
analysis of this subtile power ; but it is enough, perhaps, that 
we know it when it exists, and are able to develop it where 
it is found. A visitor to Carlyle, who sought the great 
modern seer with much reverence, complained afterwards 
that " his presence, in some unaccountable manner, rasped 
the nerves. You left him feeling as if you had drunk sour 
wine or had had an attack of sea-sickness." Some one, 011 
the other hand, describes the entrance of Dickens into a 
room as " the sudden kindling of a big fire, by which every 
one was warmed." The rare charm of Lord Houghton's 
social nature made itself everywhere felt, we are told. One 
whose tastes, by the way, were widely different, declared, 
"Whenever Mimes comes into a room everybody is in better 
humour with everybody else." As a recent authority has 
affirmed, this power is worth study by young people be- 
ginning life ; for though intangible and almost indescrib- 
able, it is the strongest power which a man or a woman can 

The self -consciousness of greatness is one of its most 
singular and interesting characteristics. Never, says Le- 
gouve, amid the fiercest agony, whether mental or physical, 
does a great artist lose self-consciousness; he is an eternal 
spectacle unto himself; great as may be his despair, ho 


watches it with argus eyes. Rachel felt her own elegance 
as she posed for a young invalid ; she seemed to herself a 
beautiful statue of Grief. 

To sum up the whole matter, then, let us say : Dare to 
be yourself. Learn to think and act for yourself. Believe 
your own thought. To believe that what is true for you in 
your private heart is true for all men that is genius, says 
Emerson. " Speak your latent conviction, and it shall be 
the universal sense. Take the place and attitude which 
belong to you, and all men acquiesce." Lay everything 
under tribute. Let all your studies, your observation, and 
experience contribute to develop only the more truly your 
real self, your true individuality. Aim ever to find your- 
self that which belongs to you in whatever direction, whether 
earth or sea or sky. All roads lead to Rome. Let all the 
roads you travel serve to bring you only the more surely to 
your distinct and true personality. In this way you shall 
arrive at that true independence which alone is of value. 
Richard Wagner, the composer, writing of himself, says : 
" My course of study under Weinlig was finished in less 
than half a year. He himself dismissed me from my ap- 
prenticeship, after having conducted me so far that I could 
solve the most difficult exercises in counterpoint with ease. 
' That which you have gained through this dry study is called 
independence,' he said to me." And independence in thought 
and deed was ever one of Wagner's most striking and noble 

The little mind is timid and full of compliances, and must 
needs go with the crowd. The great soul dares to stand 
apart, and is "never less alone than when alone." Nothing, 
surely, is more remarkable than the appearance and achieve- 
ments of gifted men. What trails of light or darkness have 
certain men left behind them ! Blot out the names of the 
few great ones who have left their impress on the ages, and 
history would be a very tame affair. It was said of the first 


Emperor Alexander of Russia, that his personal character 
was equivalent to a constitution ; and of Montaigne, that his 
was worth more to him than a regiment of horse. "A man 
Ctesar is born, and for ages after we have a Roman empire." 
One Waterloo " changed the front of the world." The works 
of Raphael and Michael Angelo, the creations of Beethoven 
and Mozart, of Handel and the great masters, exercise for 
ever their magic spell, and leave humanity their debtors. 
The heroes of the race shrank doubtless from their work, as 
you are shrinking now from yours from a sense of unfitness. 
At length, unable longer to resist the call of duty, "each 
forgot his weakness, and went and worked his fragment." 
So for each of us the duty waits. Our deed may not seem 
worth the doing, because so small. But it is our " fragment," 
and must be done ; and no one else can do it for us. Let 
not life, then, be frittered away in vacillation and weak 
compliances, "like those meagre streamlets which seem to 
lose their way at every new impediment, for ever turning 
backward or creeping around ; nor, on the other hand, 
emulate the headlong mountain torrent, boisterous and 
destructive." Let the ideal of your strength be rather that 
of the ocean, which, as one finely observes, in the calmest 
hour still heaves its resistless might of waters to the shore 
with an imperial consciousness of strength that laughs at 

" Practise thy spirit to great thoughts and things ; 

We can foretell the future of ourselves, 
And fateful only to himself is each. " 


" It is not ease, but effort not faculty, but difficulty, that makes men." 
That cocoa-nut grove will not flourish which does not daily hear the 
steps of its owner in it. HINDU SAYING. 

There is a fire-fly in the southern clime 

Which shineth only when upon the wing : 

So is it with the mind, 

When once we rest, we darken. BAILEY, Festus. 

Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before 
kings. PROVERBS xxii. 29. 

THERE is no concealing the fact that a very foolish notion is 
widely prevalent among young men respecting the dignity 
and value of work. The idea that the necessity for applica- 
tion is incompatible with the possession of great qualities, 
that the virtues of diligence and industry, forsooth, are 
inconsistent with great natural gifts, or some such foolish 
notion, has defeated many a man in the race of life, and 
done incalculable harm. The careful observer will not be 
long in discovering a certain class of men who have come to 
believe that if one is a " born genius " he will do great things 
anyway, and therefore there exists small need for exertion. 
The favourite idea of a genius, among these, appears to be 
that of one who never studies, or who studies nobody can 
tell when, and now and then strikes out at a heat, as the 
phrase is, some wonderful production. The notion seems to 
be that success is to be conquered by a sudden leap. " A 


masterly magazine article, a picture dashed off in fiery haste, 
some speech, or deed, or stroke of business ability, will 
certainly ere long, unless they are greatly mistaken, set the 
tongue of the town wagging, and carry them straight up the 

This "genius" is a character, as Devvey has justly ob- 
served, that has figured largely in the history of our litera- 
ture, in the person of our Fieldings, our Savages, and our 
Steeles, loose fellows about town, or loungers in the 
country, who slept in alehouses and wrote in bar-rooms, who 
took up the pen as a magician's wand to supply their wants, 
and when the pressure of necessity was relieved, resorted 
again to their carousals. Your real genius is an idle, 
irregular, vagabond sort of person, who muses in the fields 
or dreams by the fireside ; whose strong impulses that is 
the cant of it must needs hurry him into wild irregularities 
or foolish eccentricities ; who abhors order, and can bear no 
restraint, and eschews all labour. This seems to be the 
favourite idea. What could be more absurd? And yet, 
" 'tis true, 'tis pity," so large is the number that compla- 
cently regard themselves as belonging to this class, that the 
consequences have been exceedingly disastrous. It must be 
admitted that certain brilliant fellows have at times lent 
colour to this conception, and, intoxicated for the time 
being with the homage of wondering companions, have 
no doubt willingly fostered the idea that their brilliancy 
was due to the sudden inspiration of the moment ; but the 
cunning deception has not always been proof against the 
prying curiosity of human nature, and the unmasking of 
carefully curtained windows and concealed lights has re- 
vealed these same geniuses tugging away, as if for dear life, 
far into the night even, at the very tasks which their less 
gifted companions were toiling over in the ordinary way. 
Even Sheridan's seemingly spontaneous and impromptu 
witticisms, as every one knows, were discovered to have 


been most carefully prepared beforehand, all of which goes 
to prove that things are not always what they seem. 
Depend upon it, the most effective genius is the genius of 
hard work. "Work, work, work, is the secret of all great 
achievement and distinguished success. We commend to 
those who are waiting for that happy moment of inspiration, 
that old story of the two men who set out together to reach 
a certain point. One trudged on steadily and securely 
afoot ; the other, like Icarus, made himself wings and flew 
a furlong, when the sun melted the wax, and he came to 
grief. There are so many painters of one picture, writers of 
one novel, down there in the mud with him, some one 
significantly says. When Giardini was asked how long it 
would take to learn to play on the violin, he replied, 
" Twelve hours a day for twenty years together." If a man 
has failed, said a brave painter, you will find he has dreamed 
instead of working. There is no way to success in our art 
but to take off your coat, grind paint, and work like a 
digger on the railroad all day, and every day. The author 
of " Telemachus " was right when he sought to impress 
upon his pupil the fact that there was no royal road to 
learning, and that even the grace of God would not make a 
man a scholar. A man may be " superficially omniscient," 
as Charles Lamb expressed it, without much hard effort ; 
but there is but one pathway to thorough knowledge, the 
republican one of labour and toil. What enabled William 
Pitt, when scarcely more than a boy in years, to command 
universal attention to his first speech in the House of Com- 
mons, and to extort from Burke the encomium, " He is not 
a chip from the old block, but the old block itself"? Such 
success is no accident ; it is the well-earned reward of many 
years of laborious and complete preparation. " That was 
a great moment when the king sent for Pitt as the only man 
who could make head against Fox, and resolved to govern 
through his means. The youngster accepted the post of 


Premier. Without one moment's faltering he responded to 
the call. On the afternoon of the very same day on which 
that call was made, young Pepper Arden rose in his place 
and moved for a new writ for the borough of Appleby in 
the room of the Right Honourable William Pitt, who since 
his election has accepted the office of First Lord of the 
Treasury and Chancellor of the Exchequer. There was 
immediately a burst of loud and general laughter." It was 
not altogether unlike the moment when Disraeli sat down 
amid the derision of the House, saying the time would come 
when they would hear him. " Nevertheless, Pitt formed 
his cabinet, his majority increased, the influence of Fox 
declined, and at the age of twenty-four this heaven-born 
minister of state commenced his long dictatorship." 

It may be a very good thing for a boy to have great 
natural talent, as has been well observed ; to be noted 
among his acquaintances as a very smart boy, one who is 
sure to make his mark in the world. But it is still a very 
dangerous thing ; for it is a little curious that one seldom 
in after-life hears of these remarkable boys. They generally 
sink into very commonplace people, after all. Too often they 
are spoiled by injudicious flattery in early life. No boy, 
however talented, whose working power is not well trained, 
will ever accomplish much. In whatever line that work 
may be, he must apply himself to it with an intense purpose, 
a tireless industry. It is astonishing what can be ac- 
complished by constant repetition, and how easy this repeti- , 
tion makes any task. " Know thy work, and do it," says 
Carlyle, " and work at it like a Hercules. One monster 
there is in the world, an idle man." How many are the 
men, for instance, who have accomplished anything memor- 
able in the execution or creation of musical ideas, and 
established their pre-eminence in the musical world in any 
other way than by hard work 1 Students must rid them- 
selves, observes a writer in one of our musical journals, of 


the notion that talent is everything. Talent is nothing 
unless joined with earnest and well-directed endeavour. A 
German pianist, he tells us, during the first few years of his 
course devoted thirteen hours every clay to study. 

What right, indeed, has any man to suppose himself 
exempted from the old law of labour? "Linue labor et 
mora," as Horace says, are essential to all real success. 
" Young gentlemen, remember that nothing can stand days' 
works," said President Wayland. Of this almost omnipo- 
tent influence of simple, tireless industry, Sir Joshua 
Reynolds has borne witness. He is one of the first men of 
genius, says Horner, who has condescended to inform the 
world of the steps by which greatness is attained. " The 
confidence with which he asserts the omnipotence of human 
labour has the effect of familiarizing his reader with the 
idea that genius is an acquisition rather than a gift ; while 
withal there is blended so naturally and eloquently the most 
elevated and passionate admiration of excellence that upon 
the whole there is no book of a more inflammatory effect." 
Some of the striking utterances of Reynolds in this direction 
are well known. " Whoever is resolved to excel in paint- 
ing," he says, "or, indeed, in any other art, must bring all 
his mind to bear upon that one object from the moment 
that he rises till he goes to bed." At another time he said : 
" Those who are resolved to excel must go to their work, 
willing or unwilling, morning, noon, and night ; they will 
find it no play, but very hard labour." Like Reynolds, 
Michael Angelo was a great worker, and so was Titian. 
One of the latter 's great works was eight years in hand, and 
another seven. It has been truly observed that few realize 
the amount of patient labour and long training involved in 
the great works of the masters. They seem easy of accom- 
plishment ; but the arduous toil with which this ease has 
been acquired is frequently lost sight of. " You charge me 
fifty sequins," said the Venetian nobleman to the sculptor, 


"for a bust that cost you only ten days' labour." "You 
forget," said the artist, " that I have been thirty years learn- 
ing to make that bust in ten days." 

A habit of application, one might safely say, is really of 
as much importance to almost any great man as is his genius. 
Not that any amount of application, as has been justly 
observed, can make a dull man brilliant ; but that without 
steady application a brilliant man might almost as well be 
dull, as far as anything that he is likely to accomplish is 
concerned. Indeed, some have even gone so far as to declare 
that perseverance is genius ; but this is hardly true. It 
may well be called, however, " the right hand of genius." 
That successful young real-estate broker seems to be mar- 
vellously fortunate. Every move he makes is a lucky one. 
With the utmost apparent ease he moves from one successful 
transaction to another. There is no fuss, no hurry, no 
demonstration, nothing done for effect ; yet his fine com- 
missions continue to come rolling in, and men eager to 
secure his services wait their turn, as one after another is 
ushered into his private office. All this, to the superficial 
observer, seems very enviable, surely, and a vastly easy 
thing to do. But not all are aware that that genial and 
affable young broker has so thoroughly mastered his business 
that he has his hand continually on the pulse of the whole 
city ; that not a new street has been opened, that, indeed, 
there has been not one important transaction in real estate, 
not a single piece of property has enhanced in value, for 
many months, that has escaped his notice. That, added to 
a profound insight into human nature, and a knowledge of 
men, is a mastery of details, and a memory of facts, that 
would astonish an indolent man. Occasionally a transaction 
requiring apparently but a few hours' time rewards him 
with a handsome commission of thousands. Men observing 
only the brilliant result accomplished in so short a time 
exclaim, " A lucky fellow !" There was nothing lucky 


about it. Behind that transaction was the generalship 
that enabled him to manage men ; behind it, too, was the 
sterling common sense and sound judgment that give men 
confidence in each other ; and added to all this was a 
certain keen sagacity, a shrewd observation which enabled 
him to know when to move and when to wait, and an appli- 
cation to details which placed within his grasp every fact 
having in any wise an important bearing on the transaction, 
from beginning to end. Thus, while his rivals were slowly 
making up their minds, he had already closed the bargain. 
You may say it was a stroke of genius. It was rather 
genius and application combined. This it was which enabled 
him successfully to make head against the bright and eager 
fellows who were watching for the chance. The same is 
true elsewhere. That rising young architect at whose quiet 
bidding appeared those elegant houses and magnificent public 
buildings which seem at once a marvel of strength and 
a dream of beauty, as he so readily and easily suggests to 
you this or that tasteful design for your new dwelling, is 
not simply giving you the cursory suggestions which have 
come to him with the passing moment. Behind those ideas 
which impress you as so fitting and beautiful is a knowledge 
of all the architecture of all the periods, past and present. 
That man is familiar with the work and methods of every 
architect of note, and with every order of architecture from 
the beginning down. And this power, we affirm, comes 
from application. 

Csesar, a master in the art of speaking, as in many other 
things, attained the position, Cicero tells us, by studious 
application to the most intricate and refined branch of liter- 
ature, and by careful and constant attention to the purity 
of his style. And even the obstacles surmounted by Cicero 
himself might well have daunted one not cast in heroic 
mould. When in early years advised to give up public 
speaking on account of the critical condition of his health, 


" I resolved," he says, " to run any hazard rather than quit 
the hopes of glory which I had proposed to myself from 
pleading." That chapter from his life in which he gives us 
an account of the pains and labour undertaken to improve 
his natural abilities in this direction is full of encouragement 
and vastly entertaining. 

As every one knows, Clay and Choate and Everett all 
subjected themselves to the most laborious training. Even 
that most brilliant effort perhaps of Mr. Webster's whole 
life, his famous reply to Hayne, was, as we now know, all 
carefully prepared beforehand, though seemingly at the time 
impromptu. " I was riding with him," says his friend 
Harvey, "one morning in 1846 or 1847, to attend a cattle- 
fair at Dedham, when the conversation turned on different 
ways of preparing speeches. He said that no man who was 
not inspired could make a good speech without preparation ; 
that if there were any of that sort of people, he had never 
met them. He added that it had often been remarked that 
he had made no preparation for the Hayne speech. ' That 
was not quite so,' said he. ' If it was meant that I took 
notes, and studied, with a view to a reply, that was not 
true ; but that I was thoroughly conversant with the subject 
of debate from having made preparation for a totally dif- 
ferent purpose than that speech, is true. The preparation 
for my reply to Hayne was made upon the occasion of Mr. 
Foote's resolution to sell the public lands. Some years 
before that, a senator from Alabama introduced a resolution 
into the Senate proposing to cede the public domains to the 
State in which they were situated. It struck me at that 
time as being so unfair and improper that I immediately 
prepared an article to resist it. My argument embraced the 
whole history of the public lands and the Government's 
action in regard to them. Then there was another question 
involved in the Hayne debate. It was as to the right and 
practice of petition. Mr. Calhoun denied the right of 


petition on the subject of slavery. Calhoun's doctrine 
seemed to be accepted, and I made preparation to answer 
his proposition. It so happened that the debate did not 
take place, because the matter never was pressed. I had 
my notes tucked away in a pigeon-hole, and when Hayne 
made that attack upon me, and upon New England, I was 
already posted, and only had to take down my notes and 
refresh my memory. In other words,' said Mr. Webster, 
' if he had tried to make a speech to fit my notes he could 
not have hit it better. No man is inspired with the occasion. 
I never ivas.' " The inspiration of a great occasion is of little 
value to any man, unless behind it all lies the great fact of 
complete and thorough preparation. 

One of the most successful of the great manufacturers of 
fine papers in this country owes his success largely to the 
fact that he has been familiar with the making of fine papers 
from his boyhood, having practically learned every item of 
the business by actual experience. He is thus in every 
respect master of the situation in his fine establishment. 
He knows the materials necessary, the exact quantity and 
quality required, and is perfectly familiar with every detail 
from the moment the crude ingredients enter the works, to 
the moment when the completed product, in beautiful sheets, 
rolls from the great " Fourdrinier," or leaves the calenders. 
That he should be defrauded, or imposed upon with impunity, 
is therefore out of the question. The moment he enters the 
establishment, be it night or day, he seizes a sheet of the 
paper, rapidly inspects and tears it. This test, under the 
eye of the master, is conclusive of all the rest. If fault or 
imperfection be discovered here if it cannot pass this ordeal 
some one is forthwith called to account. Who will say 
that the application which confers such mastery as this is of 
no moment? Old Captain Fox used to say that in his 
opinion the midshipmen at the Naval Academy ought to 
begin as coal-heavers, at the very bottom of the ladder, and 


then work their way up. As it is, every one knows that no 
line officer ever comes to the command of a ship " through 
the cabin window." Asa midshipman he must " learn all the 
ropes," and make himself perfectly familiar with every detail 
concerning a man-of-war, and the way to manage her in 
weather fair or foul. He is obliged to climb shrouds and to 
man yards, to set and furl sail in winter's storm and sleet as 
well as summer's calm. Thus he becomes the master. And 
thus, though in after-years he may not have this work to do, 
he thoroughly understands how it should be done, and the 
sailors know it too. There must be no risk of blunders in 
command to provoke the ridicule of the sailors or imperil all 
on board. Moreover, practised skill is ever at a premium, 
and commands appropriate recognition. Even the old tars 
pay it fitting deference. It was noticed during the naval 
operations of the Civil War that the old sailors obeyed with 
ready alacrity the orders of even young officers fresh from 
the Academy, while they were prone to question, if not to 
resent, those of the ablest volunteer officers placed in com- 
mand. A certain clannishness, characteristic of old seamen, 
prompts them to yield a ready deference and cheerful recog- 
nition to the skill which they never hope to emulate them- 
selves. Moreover, there is the consciousness which the 
trained officer has of his own superior power, which is the 
principal thing after all. 

Few careers are fuller of inspiration or offer greater in- 
centives to young men than that of Charles Dickens ; and 
no one will deny that Dickens was a man of genius. But 
if any one imagines that this famous author relied upon his 
genius alone for his great successes, a study of his life will 
soon undeceive him. One night in London, while in the 
zenith of his fame, he was presiding at a meeting of the 
Newspaper Press Fund, and made reference to the hard work 
of his earlier years as follows : " I went into the gallery of the 
House of Commons as a parliamentary reporter when I was 


a boy not eighteen, and I left it I can hardly believe the 
inexorable truth nigh thirty years ago; and I have pursued 
the calling of a reporter under circumstances of which many 
of my brethren here, and my brethren's successors, can form 
no adequate conception. I have often transcribed for the 
printer from my shorthand notes important public speeches 
in which the strictest accuracy was required, and a mistake 
in which would have been, to a yowig man, severely com- 
promising, writing on the palm of my hand, by the light of a 
dark lantern, in a post-chaise and four, galloping through a 
wild country, through the dead of the night, at the then sur- 
prising rate of fifteen miles an hour. The very last time I 
was at Exeter I strolled into the castle yard there to identify 
for the amusement of a friend the spot on which I once 
' took ' an election speech of my noble friend Lord Russell. 
It was in the midst of a lively fight kept up by all the 
vagabonds in that vicinity, and under such pelting rain that 
I remember two good-natured colleagues, who chanced to be 
at leisure, held a pocket-handkerchief over my note-book, 
after the manner of a state canopy in an ecclesiastical pro- 
cession. I have worn niy knees by writing 011 them on the 
old back row of the old gallery of the House of Commons, 
and I have worn my feet by standing to write in a prepos- 
terous pen in the old House of Lords, where we used to be 
huddled like so many sheep." 

One is reminded of a somewhat similar reference in 
" David Coppertield " to these same hard-working days. 
" The man who reviews his life," he says, " as I do mine, in 
going on here from page to page, had need to have been a 
good man indeed, if he would be spared the sharp conscious- 
ness of many talents neglected, many opportunities wasted, 
many erratic and perverted feelings constantly at war within 
his breast and defeating him. I do not hold one natural gift, 
I daresay, that I have not abused. My meaning simply is 
that whatever I have tried to do in life, I have tried with all 


my heart to do well ; that whatever I have devoted myself 
to, I have devoted myself to completely ; that in great aims 
and in small I have always been thoroughly in earnest. I 
have never believed it possible that any natural or improved 
ability can claim immunity from the companionship of the 
steady, plain, hard-working qualities, and hope to gain its 
end. There is no such thing as such fulfilment on this earth. 
Some happy talents and some fortunate opportunity may 
form the two sides of the ladder on which some men mount ; 
but the rounds of that ladder must be made of stuff to stand 
wear and tear, and there is no substitute for thorough-going, 
ardent, and sincere earnestness. Never to put one hand to 
anything on which I could throw my whole self, and never 
to affect depreciation of my work, whatever it was, I find 
now to have been my golden rules." 

It has been truly observed that few things are more 
interesting, though few more difficult, than to trace the 
growth of a book from its first conception till it develops 
into full life and vigour. One is inclined often to ask, Was 
such and such a book composed under the influence of sudden 
inspiration, or was it the slow product of laborious thought ? 
Was it written off at once without stop or stay, or was it 
corrected and revised with years of anxious care ? Nothing 
is easier than for one to be deceived in his estimate of the toil 
implied in certain works seemingly easiest of achievement. 
Tom Moore used to declare that he never expected to get 
credit for half the toil expended on some of his airiest 
poems. It is true, as a rule, that work which is not sub- 
jected to careful revision is not likely to serve more than a 
temporary purpose. Much care, as well as never-ceasing 
diligence, is required on the part of those who aspire to do 
work that seeks a permanent place in the world of literature. 
James Payn, writing on success in fiction, frankly admits 
that it is quite true that some of the most admirable poems 
of our language have been written at a sitting, and under a 


strong impulse of the mind that falls little short of inspiration; 
but it is an error, he says, to suppose that whole novels in 
three volumes break forth from an author's imagination. 
Any one who has read with care the lives of our great 
novelists, he adds, must be aware indeed that quite the 
contrary is the case. The idea, it is true, may be born after 
that fashion, but the working it out involves toil and study, 
the reading of unattractive books, travel, and a hundred in- 
conveniences abhorrent to the indolent mind. Unhappily the 
literary mind is naturally indolent. In many of what are 
called the inferior works of our great writers failure is 
distinctly to be traced, not to any falling off in the writer's 
powers, but to that disinclination to take pains which comes 
with advancing years, especially when accompanied with 
popularity. " Sui-e of his audience, the author is too often 
tempted to let this stand as it is, and that run as it will, 
rather than trouble himself, as of old, to make sure of his 
ground, to avoid discrepancies, or carefully to collect his 
threads together at the close of his weaving." Elsewhere 
he observes that among the items of success in fiction it may 
not be wholly degrading to allude to that of finance ; and as 
indolence detracts from excellence in literature, it is also apt 
to diminish the profits to be derived from it much more than 
in other callings. " In no other will a man who is bent on 
success in it make it secondary, as men of letters so often do, 
to that of pleasure. The rising barrister, ambitious to rise 
higher as well as to fill his purse, will require something 
much more tempting than a fine morning to make him give 
up going to Chambers and pass the day in the country ; nor 
does he permit the convivialities of the evening to keep him 
till the small hours, and therefore to disorganize him for the 
work of the ensuing day. It is recorded, indeed, of the 
greatest wit that has ever set our tables in a roar, that he was 
wont to send round on ' soda-water mornings ' to a fellow- 
scribe for ' ink,' a euphemistic term implying a request that 


he would be so good as to do his work for him ; but though 
the gentleman in question enjoyed a high reputation in 
letters, he could scarcely be said to have been a conspicuous 
example of material success. Even indisposition, which is 
often only another name for disinclination for work, should 
not be lightly permitted to interfere with literary labour-. If 
once a man of letters permits the consideration of his not 
feeling quite in the humour to excuse his taking holiday, he 
will find that sort of inspiration occur to him pretty often. 
Of course there are many examples of writers that have done 
well for themselves in spite of this weakness, but they would 
have done much better if they had not given in to it. It is 
not too much to say that there have been more failures among 
men of high promise in letters through neglect of this 
common virtue of application than in any other calling." 

It is true that no one can be taught to write a successful 
work of fiction ; but it has been well observed that to suppose 
success in this direction comes by accident or impulse, that an 
author has only to sit with his pen in his hand and his eyes on 
the ceiling waiting for the happy moment of inspiration, is 
an equal mistake. Let it be remembered that without in- 
finite capacity for taking trouble no good work is possible. 
An English author tells us that a voluminous writer once 
said to him, " Look at iny manuscript. There is hardly a 
single correction in it, and this is my first draught. I never 
copy, and I rarely alter a line." " It would have been uncivil 
to say so," continues the author referred to, "but I could 
not help thinking that botli author and public would have 
been none the worse if my friend had altered a good many 
lines, and recopied not a few pages." 

This question of manuscripts is one worthy of careful 
consideration. Some one has well remarked that certain 
authors seem to think that any sort of " copy" is good 
enough for the press ; but the truth of the matter is quite 
$o the contrary. An untidy, useless, illegible manuscript 


is an offence to the publisher, dangerous irritation to the 
"reader," and to the printer an absolute cruelty. Many 
proof corrections, often made so wantonly and costing so 
much trouble and money, are also to be severely condemned. 
" Doubtless the genus .irritabile has its wrongs from hard- 
headed and often hard-hearted men of business; but vol- 
umes might be written about the worry, the loss, the actual 
torment, that inaccurate, irregular, impecunious, and extrav- 
agant authors are to that much-enduring and necessarily 
silent class, their publishers." " For my sake, if not for 
heaven's," writes Dickens to one of his contributors, " do, I 
entreat you, look over your manuscript before sending it to 
the printer." And again : " Please keep, on abrupt transi- 
tions into the present tense, your critical eye." Colton affirms 
that the great cause of the delight we receive from a fine 
composition, whether it be in prose or in verse, is to be found 
in the marvellous and magic power it confers upon the 
reader, enabling an inferior mind, at one glance and almost 
without an effort, to seize, to embrace, and to enjoy those 
remote combinations of wit, melting harmonies of sound, 
and vigorous condensations of sense, that cost a superior 
mind so much perseverance, labour, and time. Moreover, 
an author by rewriting his own thoughts will be enriched 
beyond the mere weight of the words employed. Gibbon, 
we are told, rewrote his "Memoirs" nine times ; Butler his 
"Analogy," twenty; Brougham the peroration in his plea 
for Queen Caroline, twenty; and Burke the conclusion of 
his speech at the trial of Hastings, sixteen. 

As one contemplates the works of certain authors, one 
marvels at the toil of hand alone required to produce them. 
Perhaps the most remarkable example on record is to be 
found in the person of Lope de Vega. He " thought nothing 
of writing a play in a couple of days, a light farce in an hour 
or two, and in the course of his life he furnished the stage 
of Spain with upwards of two thousand original dramas." 


Hallam calculates that this extraordinary man was the 
author of at least twenty-one million three hundred thou- 
sand lines. The most voluminous writer in modern times 
is, undoubtedly, Robert Southey, whose acknowledged works 
amount to no less than one hundred and nine volumes; in 
addition to which he contributed fifty-two essays to the 
" Annual Review," ninety-four to the " Quarterly," and to 
minor magazines articles without number. After Southey 
would come Voltaire and Sir Walter Scott. 

It would, says Sydney Smith, in his " Culture of the 
Understanding," be a profitable thing to draw up a short 
and well-authenticated account of the habits of study of the 
most celebrated writers. It would go far to destroy the 
absurd and pernicious associations of genius and idleness, by 
showing that men of the most brilliant and imposing talent 
have lived a life of intense and incessant labour. "We should 
discover that " rapt orations flowing free" have been worked 
out like mathematical problems ; that fervid apostrophes have 
been compiled, and that laborious dissertations have been 
extemporized. Take Virgil, for instance. It was his cus- 
tom, according to Donatus, to throw off a number of verses 
in the morning, and to employ the rest of the day in polish- 
ing and pruning them down. " It took him upwards of 
three years to compose his ten short Eclogues, seven years to 
write his Georgics, and upwards of twelve years to elaborate 
the ^neid, which he was so far from regarding as complete 
that he attempted to rise from his death-bed to commit it to 
the flames." Every line of Horace bears testimony to the 
fastidious labour of its author. There are, says Lord Lytton, 
single odes which must have cost the poet six weeks' seclu- 
sion from the dissipations of Rome. Lucretius's one poem 
represents the work of a whole life ; and he has himself told 
us how completely he was absorbed in it how it filled his 
waking hours, how it haunted him in his dreams. Nothing 
great and durable, says Tom Moore, has ever been produced 


with ease. Labour is the parent of all the lasting monu- 
ments of this world, whether in verse or in stone, in poetry 
or in pyramids. 

A writer in "Temple Bar" furnishes a number of instances 
illustrative of this infinite capacity for taking trouble, of 
which we have spoken. Thucydides, he tells us, was at least 
twenty years in inditing his great work. That work is com- 
prised in an octavo volume. Demosthenes made no secret of 
the pains he expended in forging his thunderbolts against 
Philip. So fastidious was Plato that the first sentence in 
the "Republic" was turned into nine different ways before 
he could satisfy himself. Pope would spend whole days 
over a couplet ; Charlotte Bronte, an hour over a word ; and 
Gray, a month over a short copy of verses. There is a poem 
of ten lines in Waller, which he has owned cost him a whole 
summer. Gibbon wrote the first chapter of the " Decline 
and Fall" three times before he was satisfied with it, and 
nearly a quarter of a century elapsed before the entire work 
was completed. John Foster, the essayist, would sometimes 
linger a week over a sentence. Addison was so fastidious 
that, Johnson tells us, he would stop the press to insert an 
epithet, or even a comma. Tasso toiled like a galley slave at 
polishing his stanzas. So morbidly anxious was Cardinal 
Bembo about style, that every poem on which he was engaged 
passed successively through forty portfolios, which represented 
its various stages toward perfection. How Petrarch laboured 
at his sonnets may be gathered from the following memo- 
randa, which were found on the original manuscript of one 
of them : " I began this by the impulse of the Lord, 10th 
of September, at the dawn of day, after my morning prayers. 

I must make these two verses over again, singing them 

[cantandd], and I must transpose them." " Three o'clock A.M., 
19th of October: I like this." "Thirtieth of October, ten 
o'clock in the morning : No, this does not please me." 
"Twentieth of December, in the evening I shall return 


to this again. I am called to supper." " Eighteenth of Feb- 
ruary, toward noon : This is now well ; however, look at it 
again." And this is the history of one sonnet. Sheridan's 
dialogue was little better than mosaic-work, painfully dove- 
tailed. Gray, Miss Austen, Charlotte Bronte, and Charles 
James Fox were conspicuously distinguished by their morbid 
sensibility to the niceties of style. Some one speaking of 
Fox declared that he wrote " drop by drop." It is not a little 
strange, also, to find in this class old Izaak Walton, whose 
simple, homely diction was, it appears, the result of almost 
incredible labour. Even Goldsmith bemoaned the trouble 
his graceful periods cost him. "Every one," he once said 
bitterly, "writes better, because he writes faster than I." 
The account given by Rousseau of the labour his smooth and 
lively style cost him is so curious that we shall let him tell 
his own tale : " My manuscripts, blotted, scratched, inter- 
lined, and scarcely legible, attest the trouble they cost me. 
There is not one of them which I have not been obliged to 

transcribe four or five times before it went to press Some 

of my periods I have turned, or re-turned, in my head for 
five or six nights before they were n't to be put to paper." 

Hume wrote thirteen hours a day while preparing his 
" History of England." Montesquieu, speaking of one part 
of his writings, said to a friend, "You will read it in a few 
hours ; but I assure you it cost me so much labour that it 
has whitened my hair." We have already referred to Sheri- 
dan and the amount of labour expended on his comedies. It 
has been well observed that hardly any form of composition 
seems as easy as a good comedy, and yet such an estimate 
would be far out of the way. Take the " School for Scandal," 
for instance. How many of those who smile at the spark- 
ling dialogue would believe the amount of thought and labour 
it cost ? The characters were altered and recast again and 
again. Many of the speeches put into the mouths of Sir 
Peter and Lady Teazle, we are told, are so shifted and re- 


modelled from what they were in the first rough draught that 
hardly a word stands in the same order as originally written. 
Coming down to more recent times, we find the same to 
be true of our modern dii majores. Dr. Holmes is said to 
write very slowly and correct a great deal. He is never 
tired of mending or improving. Longfellow was accustomed 
to write very slowly, though with little difficulty of compo- 
sition. He used a lead pencil, and carefully weighed every 
word before putting it down. It is said he sent beautiful 
manuscript to the printers, with hardly an erasure in it ; but 
by the time the "revise" was taken, very little of the orig- 
inal was left. It is asserted that the whole of the " Divine 
Tragedy" was rewritten after most of it was in type. When 
Tennyson sits down to write he gives strict orders that he 
shall not be disturbed. In his work he is deliberation per- 
sonified, sometimes spending hours on a single line. Emer- 
son was accustomed to spend the forenoon in his study with 
constant regularity. He was a diligent, slow, and pains- 
taking worker. The best materials of his freshest hours of 
thought were preserved, and slowly recast and put into form 
in the quiet of his study. His striking sentences are the 
result of most persistent labour. " They were all carefully 
revised again and again, corrected, wrought over, portions 
dropped, and new matter added. He was unsparing in his 
corrections, striking out sentence after sentence. Even whole 
paragraphs disappear from time to time. His manuscript is 
everywhere crowded with erasures and corrections. Scarcely 
a page appears that is not covered with these evidences of 
his diligent revision." One of his biographers tells us 
that the published essays were often the results of many lec- 
tures, the most pregnant sentences and paragraphs alone 
being retained. "His apples were sorted over and over 
again, until only the very rarest, the most perfect, were left. 
It did not matter that those thrown away were very good, 
and helped to make clear the possibilities of the orchard; 


they were unmercifully cast aside. His essays were conse- 
quently very slowly elaborated, wrought out through days, 
and months, and even years, of patient thought." 

Parton, writing of N. P. Willis, says for the benefit of 
young writers: "I may add that Mr. Willis never slighted 
his work, but bestowed upon everything he did, even upon 
slight and transient paragraphs, the most careful labour, 
making endless erasures and emendations. On an average 
he erased one line out of every three that he wrote, and on 
one page of his editorial writing there were but three lines 
left unaltered." Henry James is said to be very fastidious 
about construction, and rewrites until his manuscript is 
almost illegible. "I have never known," says one in writ- 
ing of him, "a more painstaking author than Mr. James. 
Notwithstanding his great talents and acquirements, he has 
not an overweening confidence, even in his ability to con- 
struct a sentence properly. He corrects and revises every 
page until his manuscript is totally illegible to any one but 
himself." One of his friends asserts that George W. Cable 
is one of the most absorbed of literary workers. He is a 
thorough believer, he tells us, in the theory that labour is 
more powerful than genius. Like Pope, he makes correc- 
tions even when his manuscripts are in the hands of the 
printer. He once telegraphed to his publisher to change a 
certain sentence which he had found capable of improve- 
ment. Let aspiring young writers note that this extreme 
care about the little details of phraseology is a characteristic 
of all whose works do not sink into obscurity a few months 
after birth. "A flowing style appears spontaneous to the 
reader; but oialy those who have worked in the field of letters 
themselves know of the erasures, the turning of sentences 
and clauses, and the many rewritings that evolve the delights 
of the printed page. As old Ben Jonson said, ' Easy writing 
makes hard reading.'" 

George Eliot is said to have worked harder on " Romola" 


than on any of her other books. In her own words, " I 
began it a young woman I finished it an old woman ; " and 
yet but about seventeen months were consumed in writing 
it. One is reminded of Robert Stephenson's remark con- 
cerning the Britannia Bridge. He declared that he grew 
old ten years while he was building it. For weeks before it 
was finished he could get no continuous sleep, such was his 
wearing anxiety. He was initiating a new era of engineer- 
ing, and was most wakeful and vigilant, that no element 
might be overlooked in his careful computations. 

Any one familiar with the rehearsals of a great oratorio 
knows how "blue" and discouraging the outlook often seems, 
particularly on the night of final rehearsal. The singers are 
tired and listless, mistakes are frequent, the patience of con- 
ductor and chorus alike sorely tried, and a total depravity of 
affairs in general seems to prevail. Everything apparently 
is "going to the dogs." One unaccustomed to such a state 
of things would instantly predict inevitable and signal failure. 
How surprising to such shall seem the brilliant success when 
at length the eventful night arrives ! Those wearisome 
rehearsals have not been in vain. Knowledge, accuracy, the 
assurance and conviction of the manner in which each pas- 
sage ought to be rendered, in a word, the mastery of the 
oratorio has been gained. Drill and application have con- 
ferred it these alone. It needs simply "the breath of great 
occasion " to give the finishing touch, the needed inspiration 
that is all. And as the perfect harmonies of the "Creation" 
or the inspiring strains of the "Hallelujah Chorus" surge 
out over the vast and delighted assembly, one instantly per- 
ceives the significance and value of application and discipline 
and drill 

One sometimes hears the familiar excuse given for inaction 
that one is waiting for his mood. This waiting for moods is 
liable to rob one of many valuable moments. Especially is 
this true regarding young men. It is safe to say that such 


a state of ruind should always be closely scrutinized. It may 
transpire that such an excuse is only another name for 
laziness. Anthony Trollope declared it all stuff and non- 
sense for one to wait for moods ; and even Johnson main- 
tained, as we know, that one could force himself to produce 
good work at any time, if he would only set himself doggedly 
at it. " Cogenda mens est ut incipiat," says Seneca. Com- 
pulsion, doubtless, must be often used. As has been truly 
observed, some of the best writing in the world is that which 
is done on our first-class daily journals. Yet, as every one 
knows, the "leader" must be written on the minute, and 
often, as for instance when an important telegram has come 
in late at night, against time. No journalist can habitually 
wait for a writing mood. No one, moreover, can realize 
more fully than an editor at the head of a great journal how 
all-important and invaluable to one in such a position is the 
possession of the utmost possible learning. Information on 
all sorts of subjects cannot be amiss, and no item of know- 
ledge is liable to prove itself useless or superfluous to its 
possessor. "I was a college graduate before I was a re- 
porter," said the editor of one of the great daily newspapers 
lately. " But if I could have stopped work after I had been 
two years in the office, and gone back to study international 
law, history, and languages, it would have been worth a 
large capital to me. A man does not know what he ought 
to know until he has been at actual work in journalism for 
a year or two." In this profession, as in every other, the 
increasing demands of the age require wide study and inces- 
sant work. 

While it is undeniably true that the mind must often be 
driven to its task, it is also true, doubtless, that in works of 
the imagination the best results are only to be attained 
when the worker is in the best of moods. But genius is a 
law unto itself. Thackeray, it is said, would scribble page 
after page of manuscript, and tear each one up. In this 


style he would court his mood for an hour or two. Suddenly it 
would respond ; then he would dash off a dozen or more pages at 
a sitting. Hawthorne's moods were capricious. There would 
be weeks, we are told, in which he could write scarcely a 
paragraph that he thought worth preserving. It is related 
of Lowell that he used to walk about the house talking to 
himself. He sometimes kept this up for days, and then 
suddenly retired to his study. When he reappeared, his 
work was finished. 

It is curious to note in this connection what an aversion 
certain world-famous authors have had to entering upon 
their self-imposed tasks. They proved themselves splendid 
workers, but at the same time seem to have dreaded the 
work. Foster, the essayist, was one of these. While his 
brilliant essays were so successful and so much admired, he 
yet had almost to be driven to the task of composition. 
Charles Kingsley, that noble worker, once wrote in a book 
kept for the autographs of literary men, "Any sort of work," 
in answer to the question, "What do you dislike most?" 
Bryant may also be cited. Browne tells us that, although a 
journalist, and accustomed to daily writing, Bryant was not 
fond of literary composition, and seldom attempted it unless 
there was something he particularly wanted to say. Poetry 
with him was not only a labour of love, but a love of labour. 
He composed with the greatest difficulty, owing to an extreme 
fastidiousness that refused to be satisfied. Like Pope and 
Campbell, he was always anxious to alter and revise, and 
was ever finding what he conceived to be happier ways of 
expression. It is said he wrote " Thanatopsis " a hundred 
times, and that even after publication he had a copy of the 
poem with various changes from the published form. It 
used to be often asked why Bryant did not write more, but 
those who knew him well did not wonder. Poetry with him 
was "a mental agony." He took as much pains over his 
lines as Jean Jacques did over his prose, or Tennyson over 


his verse. He almost invariably, we are told, declined to 
furnish poems for college commencements, public occasions, 
and national festivals. The only instance, perhaps, of his 
departing from this established rule of his life was when he 
furnished two short poems to the " Ledger," for which Mr. 
Bonner paid him the unusual sum of three thousand dollars. 
"I know a score of clever fellows in the vicinity of Printing 
House Square," remarks Browne, in writing of him, " who 
would write a drama, half a dozen pieces of verse, a story, 
two or three columns of paragraphs, and a score of letters, to 
the country press, while Bryant was inditing a short poem. 
I am bound to say, however," he quietly adds, " his work 
would better bear critical examination than theirs." One 
is reminded by these instances of Grant's "Let us have 
peace," or of that declaration in his speech at London in 
1877: "Although a soldier by education and profession, I 
have never felt any sort of fondness for war, and I have 
never advocated it, except as a means of peace." The man 
of war, indeed, as Badeau says of him, always preferred 
peace. He never liked his profession. In England, when 
the Duke of Cambridge offered him a review, the courtesy 
was declined ; and Grant declared to his intimates that a 
review was the last thing he desired to see. 

No man, says Inness, the painter, can do anything in art 
unless he has intuitions ; but between whiles one must work 
hard in collecting the materials out of which intuitions are 
made. Dante produces an immortal poem, in which both 
heaven and earth are brought under tribute, and which he 
says kept him lean many years, and involved immense study 
and toil. Such a masterpiece was a work of untiring industry 
as well as inspiration. Goethe said of one of his ballads, 
" Whole years of reflection are comprised in it, and I made 
three or four trials before I could bring it to its present 
shape." One of Tennyson's lines was quoted in his presence 
as a happy instance of a natural expression of a spontaneous 


thought, when the poet said, " I smoked a dozen cigars over 
that line;" and Tom Moore confesses to almost incredible 
toil in collecting his material for " Lalla Rookh." 

Then, too one may as well admit it men are naturally 
indolent. They love to take their ease, and are therefore 
averse to active effort. This capacity for mental labour, 
combined with reluctance to undertake it, is not uncommon. 
An indolent, capable man, as already noted, finds it painful 
to set his mind in motion. His inertia must be overcome 
by a force outside of himself. Poverty has often proved a 
great stimulus in this direction. Sir Samuel Romilly, the 
greatest Chancery lawyer of his day, we are told, worked up 
to an income of ten thousand pounds a year, equivalent to 
more than twenty thousand pounds in these days. When 
he began his professional life he had a small fortune, and 
thought of buying with it the lucrative position of the clerk 
of the court. But his father was in straitened circumstances, 
and the son generously turned the money over to him and 
went to work. His subsequent success at the bar, as he 
himself wrote, arose out of the pecuniary difficulties and 
confined circumstances of his father. When Lord Eldon 
began his practice at the Chancery bar as John Scott, Lord 
Chancellor Thurlow promised him a commissionership of bank- 
ruptcy. But the promise remained unfulfilled, for a reason 
which Lord Thurlow afterwards gave thus : " Jack, I with- 
held it as a favour to you. I saw that you had ability, but 
that you were naturally indolent, and that only want could 
make you industrious." Indeed, Lord Eldon himself used 
to say that the first requisite for distinction as a barrister 
was "to be not worth a shilling." 

How many college-bred men seem to have derived little or 
no benefit from superior advantages enjoyed ! And one need 
not often seek far to find the reason. They have shirked or 
idled instead of working. They have passed through the 
routine, it is true, and after a fashion have taken everything 


laid down in the college curriculum. But what has been 
achieved? What have they to show for it? A "sheepskin," 
perhaps, and possibly even that only by a stroke of singular 
good fortune. They have not added to their mental fibre ; 
they have never really known what genuine study means ; 
they have dreaded application, and since there is no other 
road to success, they have missed their way. Men who 
never enjoyed the privilege of a college education have far 
outstripped them. It has been truly said that the ranks of 
our thinkers and literary workers are constantly recruited 
by those who owe success to their own exertions. Many of 
our brilliant scientists, our most polished writers, are, as we 
say, self-made men. Howells was his own instructor; Hugh 
Miller had few opportunities of attending school, so called ; 
Faraday never graduated at a university, yet he left a name 
of which all Englishmen are justly proud. Professor Gosse, 
of Cambridge University, England, we are told, was educated 
at home under the careful supervision of his mother, a lady 
of rare culture and force of character. Disraeli never went 
either to a public school or a university. If circumstances 
are such that a young man cannot avail himself of the 
advantages of a great school, let him not lose heart. 

How large a majority of even college men, let us ask, 
know from actual experience what that sort of study means 
of which Bailey gives so graphic a portrayal in " Festus " ? 
Some there are who will recognize the picture. Says 

" I know what study is: it is to toil 
Hard through the hours of the sad midnight watch, 
At tasks which seem a systematic curse 
And course of bootless penance. 

Wring a slight sleep out of the couch, and see 
The self-same moon which lit us to our rest, 
Her place scarce changed perceptibly in heaven, 
Now light us to renewal of our toil. 


This to the young mind, wild and all in leaf, 

Which knowledge, grafting, paineth. Fruit soon comes, 

And more than all our troubles pays us powers ; 

So that we joy to have endured so much ; 

That not for nothing have we slaved and slain 

Ourselves, almost." 

That kind of study always tells, and one may set it down 
as a rule that has few exceptions, that the successful man 
is one who has " disciplined himself and made a sacrifice." 
Nor let one conclude, because he cannot secure a whole 
day, it will therefore be of little use to save the fragments. 
Even an hour a day would in seven years be equivalent to 
well-nigh a whole year's study ; and who will say that this 
is of small account 1 Moreover, what one learns thoroughly 
when young he retains through life. " Read Coke on Lit- 
tleton again and again," was Lord Chancellor Eldon's ad- 
vice to young lawyers. "If it be toil and labour to you, 
and it will be so, think as I do when I am climbing up to 
Swyer, or West Hill, that the world will be before you 
when the toil is over ; for so the law will be, if you make 
yourself complete master of that book." As Lucretius puts 
it, a falling drop at last will cave a stone. 

John Stuart Blackie declares that he never knew a man 
good for anything in the world, who, when he had a piece 
of work to do, did not know how to stick to it. And he 
refers to the poet Wordsworth as giving, in his " Excursion," 
as a reason for going on with his mountain perambulation 
when the sky began to look cloudy, that though a little rain 
might be disagreeable to the skin, the act of giving up a 
fixed purpose in view of a slight possible inconvenience is 
dangerous to the character. " There is much wisdom here," 
continues Blackie. " We do not live in a world in which a 
man can afford to be discouraged by trifles. A friend of mine, 
making the ascent of Ben Cruachan, when he reached what 
he imagined to be the top, found that the real peak was two 
miles farther on to the west, and that the road to it lay 


along a rough stony ridge not easy for weary feet to tread 
on. But this was a small matter. The peak was being 
enveloped in mist, and it was only an hour from sunset. 
He wisely determined to take the nearest way down ; but 
what did he do next day ? He ascended the Ben again, and 
took his dinner triumphantly on the topmost top, in order, 
as he said, ' that the name of this most beautiful of 
Highland Bens might not for ever be associated in his 
mind with bafflement and defeat.'" This sort of a man, 
depend upon it, will succeed in everything he undertakes. 
Moreover, haste or shamming always betrays itself. All 
successful men come at length to know that there is a certain 
quality of attainment, whether it be in art, or science, or 
letters, which always and unmistakably represents, no 
matter what the native genius, that " long scorning of 
delights and living of laborious days" without which the 
highest success is impossible. Some seem to think that 
success in painting, for instance, is something to be acquired 
at a single bound. They remind one of the illustration given 
by Hunt, the artist, with a touch of quiet humour, con- 
cerning the parents of certain young ladies who are ever 
anxiously on the look-out for evidences of elaborative and 
accomplished work. " This much-admired finish," says 
Hunt, " is like the architecture that the countryman said 
was going to be put on his house by a Boston man 
after it was built" Elsewhere he says, "Real finish must 
be of the same quality as real beginning." It is for ever 
true that great artists win their matchless power only 
through years of "that long travail of effort wherewith great 
gifts have birth, and through the priceless discipline of true 
training." This confers the artist's skill and knowledge. 
Then, at length, " strong and sure as the Atlantic tides 
sweeping up the shore," comes the inspiration with all its 
" hidings of power." 

The same rule of application holds in the business world. 


Successful business men tell us that success in commercial 
life depends upon certain essential qualifications, a char- 
acter, for instance, in which are found indomitable resolution 
and power of rigid application. These are looked upon by 
the experienced as good as capital ; sometimes better. 
" Without them the merchant will be beaten as the mercan- 
tile contest thickens and the heat of the business day 
advances. The young merchant can afford to be without 
coat and shoes (as many have been), but not without these 
grand and substantial elements of a business character." 
One of the most successful of English lawyers was Pemberton 
Leigh, Baron Kingsdown. In a privately printed work 
which he left a most entertaining volume he gives us his 
recollections in Parliament and at the bar. He retired 
from both at the age of fifty. He refused to be Solicitor- 
General ; he refused to be Lord Chancellor. For twenty 
years he was one of the greatest judges of the final court 
of appeals. A peerage he never took pay was the only 
reward he would accept from his country. After the 
touching picture which he gives us of the poverty and 
hard work of his early life, he significantly adds : " It 
was the severe preparation for the subsequent harvest. I 
learned to consider indefatigable labour as the indispensable 
condition of success, pecuniary independence as essential 
alike to virtue and happiness, and no sacrifice too great to 
avoid the misery of debt." 

It will be well for a young man to rid himself early of 
the idea that it is by books alone, or by books chiefly, that 
he is to advance in intellectual power. Many a man has 
loaded himself down so completely with the works of other 
men, that they have crushed out all originality in him 
and proved a useless burden. If a young man cannot go 
through college or university without losing all his native 
power and individuality ; if he have not strength enough 
in himself to make all else subservient to real growth, to 


assimilate the stores of learning offered him by other men, 
it were well to count the cost before engaging in such a 
venture. The main thing, after all, is not so much to cram 
one's self with other men's opinions as to have matured and 
well-digested convictions of one's own. The aim should be 
to train the working power in one's self. Carlyle, in a letter 
of advice to a young friend concerning the books he was 
to read, used these words : " Study to do faithfully what- 
soever thing, in your actual situation there and now, you 
find either expressly or tacitly laid to your charge : that 
is your post. Stand to it like a true soldier. A man per- 
fects himself by work much more than by reading. They 
are a growing kind of men who can wisely combine the 
two things, wisely, valiantly can do what is laid to their 
hand in their present sphere, and prepare themselves, 
withal, for doing other wider things, if such lie before 
them." .And let it not be forgotten that the surest avenue 
of escape from an uncongenial position, if a man find him- 
self thus circumstanced, is not to lie down and bemoan his 
fate, but to throw himself so lustily into his work that it 
shall be seen by every one that his place is so manifestly 
more than filled, as to suggest his fitness for a larger field. 
It has been justly observed that the lawyer who rises to 
conduct a difficult case in his leader's absence, the surgeon 
who has a sudden chance presented to him, must have had 
long preparatory training before he can skilfully avail him- 
self of any sort of emergency. He must have been in the 
habit of relying on himself. No way has been found for 
making heroism easy, even for the scholar, says Emerson. 
The world is nothing but a mass of means : 

" We have but what we make, and every good 
Is locked by nature in a granite hand, 
Sheer labour must unclench. 

The blowing winds are but our servants 
When we hoist a sail." 


The extraordinary power of application which certain 
men have at times displayed seems truly marvellous. 
When Horace Greeley established the Tribune, Henry J, 
Raymond went into the office as associate editor, at the 
princely salary of eight dollars a week, and working, on an 
average, about thirteen or fourteen hours a day. Greeley, 
who was a perfect fanatic himself concerning labour, and 
who thought that a man only ordinarily industrious was a 
mere drone, actually urged Raymond not to work so much ; 
and he was the only person the editor-in-chief of the 
Tribune ever found it necessary to remonstrate with on that 
account. In September 1851, the first number of the 
Times was issued, Raymond being editor-in-chief, and it is 
reported that he had over twelve columns of his own matter 
in the initial issue. He was always a very fluent and easy 
writer, and it used to be said in the office, that if the clays 
were a little longer Raymond would write up the whole 
paper. He was reckoned the most versatile writer on the 
New York press. One of his most remarkable perform- 
ances was his article on the death of Daniel Webster. It 
filled nearly fifteen columns of the Times, was written at 
one sitting, and in the incredibly short space of twelve 

While in Boston, during his second visit to America, 
Dickens kept himself strictly secluded from all but one or 
two old and intimate friends. He remained in his rooms 
at the Parker House, busily engaged all day in writing and 
study, except when engaged in taking his daily walk of six 
or eight miles. Much of his time was spent in the most 
laborious, painstaking study of the parts he was to read. 
The public, as we are assured by the best authority, had 
but little idea of the cost, in downright hard work, of mind, 
body, and voice, at which his readings were produced. In- 
deed, we are told that although Mr. Dickens had then read 
nearly five hundred times, he never attempted a new part 


in public until he had spent at least two months over it, in 
study "as faithful and searching as Rachel or Cushman 
would give to a new character." This, we are further 
assured, extended not merely to the analysis of the text, to 
the discrimination of character, to the minutest points of 
elocution, but the facial expression, the tone of the voice, 
the gesture, the attitude, and even the material surroundings 
were determined upon. He was so conscientious that he 
left nothing .undone that time and labour could do to give 
to the public, that paid so much for the pleasure of hearing 
him, the full worth of its money. " I am come here to 
read," he said. " The people expect me to do my best ; and 
how can I do it if I am all the time on the go 1 My time is 
not my own when I am preparing to read, any more than it 
is when I am writing a novel ; and I can as well do one as 
the other without concentrating all my power on it till it is 
done." Thus we see, as has been truly observed, that his 
consummate ability was not acquired, or acquirable, without 
great labour and perseverance. It often took him three 
months, we are told, to become perfect in a new scene ; and 
his bodily exhaustion after a night's reading was always 
great. The same painstaking conscientiousness is true of 
Salvini. " When I first became acquainted with him," says 
one of his friends, " I was of opinion that his interpretation 
of ' Hamlet ' was based only upon the translated text ; but 
in the course of a very long conversation on the subject I 
discovered that he was well acquainted, through literal 
translations, not only with the text, but also with the notes 
and comments of our leading critics. The costumes worn by 
Salvini in ' Othello ' are copied from those depicted in 
certain Venetian pictures of the fifteenth century in which 
several Moorish officers appear. It took him many years 
to master this role, and he assured me that he could not 
play it more than three times in succession without ex- 
periencing terrible fatigue. ' It is a matter of wonder to me,' 


he observed, ' that English actors can play a great character 
like this so many nights in succession, and above all that 
they retain self-possession while the fidgety noise of scene- 
shifting is going on behind them.' Speaking about dramatic 
elocution, he said : ' The best method is obtained by close 
observation of nature, and above all by earnestness. If 
you can impress people with the conviction that you feel 
what you say, they will pardon many shortcomings. And 
above all, study, study, study ! All the genius in the world 
will not help you along with any art unless you become a 
hard student. It has taken me years to master a single 
part.' " 

Handel was an indefatigable worker, and so was Haydn. 
" Work," said Mozart, " is my chief pleasure." Meyerbeer 
worked fifteen hours a day, and the " Huguenots," the 
" Prophete," and his other brilliant works, bear witness to 
the value of their author's application to his art. Domeni 
chino was once blamed for his slowness in finishing a picture 
which had been ordered. "I am continually painting it 
within myself," was his reply. Say what one may, the 
most effective genius is the genius of hard work. The first 
Napoleon was a tremendous worker ; he was never idle. 
At midnight, just before one of his most critical and 
decisive battles, "which had already been fought through 
in his own brain just as the thunderbolt of a hundred 
thousand men which he was about in a few hours to hurl 
from his right hand actually fought it through the next day," 
he was found sitting in his tent and drawing up an elaborate 
course of study for Madame Campan's young ladies' school ! 

It is curious to note the various expedients which have 
been adopted by hard workers in order to obtain that seclu- 
sion so necessary to securing the best results of one's work. 
M. D. Conway once, visiting Paris, found Mark Twain 
hidden away in Millet's studio finishing one of his books. 
It is told of Professor Anthon, that one summer, wishing to 


devote himself uninterruptedly to his " Classical Dictionary," 
he had a room fitted up in the attic of his residence, and 
callers were invariably told that the professor was " taking 
his summer vacation." It is related of Greeley that when 
he was writing his "American Conflict" he found it neces- 
sary to conceal himself somewhere, to prevent constant in- 
terruptions. He accordingly took a room in the Bible 
House, where he worked from ten in the morning until five 
in the afternoon, and then appeared in the sanctum seem- 
ingly as fresh as ever. Beggars, politicians, reformers, 
counsel-seekers, all pursued him so persistently that at length 
his sanctum on the editorial floor was demolished and a den 
prepared for him in the " impenetrable recesses in the 
vicinity of the counting-room." Many a one attempted to 
find him even there, but the result of the search was usually 
" a mingled groan and malediction, amid the howling dark- 
ness of the press-room," this, and nothing more. 

Of all the heroisms of history, nothing is more striking 
than the record of the almost herculean tasks which have 
at times been performed under the inspiration of a pure 
and romantic attachment, or of that wifely affection which 
reveals so unmistakably " the beauty and strength of woman's 
devotion." In the account given by Sir William Napier 
of the immense service rendered him by his wife in the 
composition of his work on the " History of the Peninsular 
War," he tells us that when the immense mass of King 
Joseph's correspondence, taken at Vittoria, was placed in 
his hands, he was dismayed at finding it to be a huge 
collection of letters, without order, and in three languages, 
one of which he did not understand. " Many also were in 
very crabbed and illegible characters, especially those of 
Joseph's own writing, which is nearly as difficult to read as 
Napoleon's. The most important documents were in cipher, 
and there was no key. Despairing of any profitable ex- 
amination of the materials, the thought crossed me of giving 


up the work, when my wife undertook, first to arrange the 
letters by dates and subjects, next to make a table of refer- 
ence, translating and epitomizing the contents of each ; and 
thus, without neglecting for an instant the care and educa- 
tion of a very large family, she did it in such a simple and 
comprehensive manner that it was easy to ascertain the 
original document in a few moments. She also undertook 
to decipher the correspondence, and not only succeeded, but 
formed a key to the whole, detecting even the nulls and 
stops, and so accurately, that when, in the course of time, 
the original key was placed in my hands, there was nothing 
to learn. Having mentioned this to the Duke of Welling- 
ton, he seemed at first incredulous, observing that I must 
mean that she had made out the contents of some letters. 
Several persons had done this for him, he said, but none 
had ever made out the nulls or formed a key ; adding, ' I 
would have given twenty thousand pounds to any person 
who would have done that for me in the Peninsula.'" 
When we consider, says one in commenting upon the mag- 
nitude of the achievement, the immense deal of labour 
involved, the ingenuity requisite to bring order out of con- 
fusion, it stands as perhaps the most wonderful record of 
wifely love ever known. " No pleasure lured her from the 
task ; no sunshine dancing without wooed her from the 
still solitude of the room where, patient, constant, unwearied, 
she pondered over the dark hieroglyphics, all for the love 
of him to whom she was so precious a helpmate, companion, 
and friend." The wife of Nathaniel Bowditch, the trans- 
lator of Laplace's " Mecanique Celeste," was a woman of 
great piety and sweetness of disposition. He frequently 
declares that had it not been for her encouragement and 
sympathy he could not have carried on the work. Dr. 
Hitchcock of Amherst College pays a similar tribute to 
his " Beloved Wife," in the dedication of his " Religion of 


It is undeniably true that in that fine quality which 
" hopes and endures and is patient," which is ever so promi- 
nent a factor in all distinguished success, womanhood is un- 
surpassed. In illustration of this, many notable instances 
might be given. Mrs. Reeves tells us that a certain prima 
donna refused to sit down at all on a day when she was 
to sing. " No, she would walk around the room, talking 
perhaps, singing perhaps, sometimes very busy with her 
needle and thread, but never sitting down the livelong day 
until the performance was all over. I remember well 
enough," she continues, "how, on the morning of a per- 
formance, Jenny Lind, Mr. Reeves, Mr. Goldschmidt, and 
myself were in the room ; and during the morning Jenny 
Lind and my husband were never still, passing each other, 
with music in hand, singing and practising, and intent on 
the work before them. ' Why, Jenny,' said Mr. Gold- 
schmidt, ' you must have sung those songs many times ; 
surely there is no need of all this.' But remonstrance was 
in vain. Suppose you had called to see Jenny Lind," 
she adds, " on a day when she was singing. She would 
probably come into the room with a bundle of music in her 
hand, put it on a chair and sit down upon it, talk away 
pleasantly enough for a few minutes, turn to a passage in 
one of the pieces and hum it over. Having satisfied herself 
of her correctness, she would replace it and sit down again 
as calmly as possible, and resume the conversation at the 
point it was broken off." Who doubts that in this unwearied 
patience and persistence and application are to be found, in 
great part at least, the secret of that brilliant success of the 
"Swedish Nightingale" of which our fathers never tire of 
telling ? 

We sometimes hear, says Legouve", that certain great 
artists made their own voices. The expression is incorrect. 
No one can make a voice who has not one to start with, and 
this is proved by the fact that the voice is perishable. No 


voice would ever be lost, could it be made at will ; but it 
may be changed, it may gain body, brilliancy, and expres- 
sion, not only from a series of gymnastics adapted to 
strengthen the whole organ, but from a certain method of 
attacking the note. Additional notes may also be gained by 
study. On one occasion the famous Malibran, when sing- 
ing the Rondo from " Sonnambula," finished her cadenza 
with a trill on D in alt, running up from low D, thus em- 
bracing three octaves. These three octaves were no natural 
gift, but the result of long and patient labour. After the 
concert some one expressed his admiration of her D in alt, to 
which she replied, "Well, I've worked hard enough for it. 
I've been chasing it for a month. I pursued it everywhere, 
when I was dressing, when I was doing my hair ; and at last 
I found it in the toe of a shoe that I was putting on." Von 
Bulow once declared that if he omitted practice for a single 
day, he himself could perceive the effect of it upon his play- 
ing ; if he omitted it for two days, his friends could perceive 
it ; and if for a longer period, the public would notice it. 
That old German inscription on a key, " If I rest, I rust," 
would seem to be as true of men as of iron. 

Of the great musicians, Beethoven probably surpassed all 
others in painstaking fidelity and application. " Audacious 
and impassioned beyond every one," says Grove, "the mo- 
ment he takes his pen in hand he becomes the most cautious 
and hesitating of men. It would almost seem as if this great 
genius never saw his work as a whole until it actually 

approached completion There is hardly a bar in his music 

of which it may not be said with confidence that it has been 
rewritten a dozen times. Of the air, ' O Hoffnung,' in 
' Fidelio,' the sketch-books show eighteen attempts, and of 
the concluding chorus, ten." Of many of the brightest gems 
of the opera, says Thayer, the first ideas are so trivial that it 
would be impossible to admit that they were Beethoven's if 
they were not in his own handwriting. And so it is with all 


his works. His favourite maxim was : " The barriers are 
not erected which can say to aspiring talents and industry, 
'Thus far, and no farther.'" Mozart tells us that his 
melodies came to him of themselves, he knew not whence ; 
and yet it is well known that Mozart was also a great 

Many have doubtless been struck with the graphic 
descriptions of natural scenery and surroundings in the 
works of William Black ; but not every one is aware of the 
manner in which these well-nigh photographic delineations 
are produced. "We have known him in windy weather," 
says a recent writer, "shut up in the forecastle of a seven- 
ton yacht under full sail, diligently doing his -hour's writ- 
ing he only works so much every day while the debris 
of the forecastle was rattling around him and the ropes 
whistling above his head. Much of the fidelity of Mr. 
Black's descriptions of nature is due to the fact that they 
are actual transcriptions taken down at the moment under 
all sorts of difficulties." The world calls these persons men 
of genius. But no native ability relieves them from the 
necessity of earnest and persistent application to whatever 
they undertake. How little conception has the public 
generally of the infinite pains taken by some of our great 
lawyers when an important suit is pending, or how faint an 
idea of the amount of labour performed ! Men look on and 
marvel as they perceive how unmistakably and how easily, 
to all appearances, the great advocate proves himself master 
of the situation; but few have any adequate idea of the 
secret of it all, or of the amount of toil involved. A lawyer 
of large practice is compelled by his cases to master subjects 
in almost every department of knowledge. An incident 
illustrative of this is told in the life of Lord Lyndhurst. He 
was employed as counsel in a case which related to Mr. 
Heathcote's famous invention of the bobbin -net machine. 
That he might conduct the case successfully, he determined 


to understand the working of the machine. Accordingly 
he went to Nottingham, and took his place in the mill at 
one of the looms. He did not leave it till he could make 
a piece of bobbin-net with his own hands, and understood 
perfectly the details of manufacture, as well as its principles. 
When the case came on in court he produced a model machine 
and worked it with such ease and skill, and explained the 
nature of the invention with such clearness, that judge, jury, 
and spectators were alike astonished. He gained the case, 
because, in the opinion of all, he had mastered the details and 
principles of the invention. It is related of Daubray, a 
French actor, who was to play a butcher's part in a recent 
piece, that he rose early every morning for weeks to visit the 
market and observe how the butchers cut their meats. The 
famous Gavarni spent his days in observation of the manners 
of different social classes. He even got his tailor to have 
him arrested, that he might make a study of the prisoners in 
a Paris jail. His restless eyes were ever on the watch for 
material. He sat frequently on a bench in the Tuileries, or 
before a cafe, with a pencil concealed in his hand and his 
little book at his side. Never be afraid of taking pains/ 
What finer motto could a young man adopt than that 1 Rest 
assured of one thing, if you will not take pains, pains will 
take you, as Whately wittily observes. 

According to all accounts Meissonier, the great French 
artist, possesses this splendid trait. It was he who received 
from A T. Stewart sixty thousand dollars for one of his 
paintings. He almost always paints from a model. " Here," 
said he to a visitor recently, as he took up a small wax figure, 
" is the model of a horse prancing. It would have been im- 
possible to draw direct from nature, so I had a horse brought 
around here and made to prance while I modelled him in 
wax. It was a terrible job. I had the horse brought here 
every morning for four weeks, before the image was perfect ; 
but it is finished now, and I can draw from it at my leisure. 



You see, too, I had a miniature set of harness made and 
fitted on the image, so as to have every strap and buckle just 
right. Here is another figure of a horse rolling upon the 
ground as if struck by a shot. It is for a battle scene. I 
had them throw a horse down and make him roll and 
struggle while I modelled him, and they had to do it more 
than a score of times." 

Wherein lies the secret of the great superiority of certain 
well-known products in the market over others apparently the 
same, but which one finds upon examination to be far inferior 1 ? 
One of the leading New York dailies some time since gave 
an admirable answer to this question, as follows : " Simply 
because they are made by people who know more than any 
other people in the world engaged in the same work. They 
put more brains into their work than others do ; they are 
intelligent enough to know the value of care, intelligent 
enough to be conscientious about employing it, intelligent 
enough to know how to employ it with skill to produce the 
best results." And does it not pay ? 

Two or three generations ago a member of a family now 
well known in Massachusetts determined to develop the in- 
dustry of paper-making in this country. By application, per- 
sistency, and thrift he laid the foundation of a great fortune. 
His sons and grandsons, inheriting the same fine qualities, 
and maintaining the highest standard of excellence in manu- 
facture, received the contract for making the first " Green- 
backs," and now send their elegant papers to all parts of the 
world. In a eulogy on Jeremiah Mason, before the Suffolk 
bar, Mr. Webster said : " I will not say of the advantages 
which I have derived from his intercourse and conversation 
all that Mr. Fox said of Edmund Burke ; but I am bound to 
say that of my own professional discipline and attainments, 
whatever they may be, I owe much to that close attention to 
the discharge of my duties which I was compelled to pay for 
nine successive years, from day to day, by Mr. Mason's efforts 


at the same bar. Fas est ab hoste doceri ; and I must have 
been unintelligent, indeed, not to have learned something 
from the constant displays of that power which I had so 
much occasion to see and feel." 

]STo young man need bemoan the fact of his having but a 
meagre library. It has often been the case that the finest 
work has been done by possessors of the fewest tools. In 
fact, in these days it would seem that one's danger lies in 
just the opposite direction. Amid the multiplicity of cheap 
books, one is in danger of becoming surfeited, and allowed 
little opportunity to think for himself, or to thoroughly 
digest any one of the many works thrust upon him. The 
reading and re-reading of a single volume has been the 
making of many a man. The thorough mastery of one great 
book will at times reveal powers of thought in the student 
of which he never dreamed. One is apt to dissipate his 
strength if he attempts to spread himself over too large a 
surface. Instances are not uncommon of a single picture, 
for instance, thoroughly mastered, having a great influence 
in the training and development of an artist's genius. To a 
Velasquez, a portrait of the Due d'Olivarez, which the Earl 
of Elgin lent him, that he might study it while yet a young 
artist, Sir Francis Grant ascribed much of his after success. 

Let a young man, then, at the outset of his career resolve 
that he will, by all fair means at his disposal, conquer his 
place in the world, and deserve success even if he does not 
reach it. Let him neither shrink nor shirk, but make up his 
mind to pay full price. " The gods sell anything and to 
everybody at a fair price." Let him not despise recreation, 
but not give it undue prominence in his calculations ; learn 
to regard it rather as a means to an end. " Rest is not what 
I want," said an eminent surgeon, "but strength." More- 
over, to secure one's right to amusement and recreation, as 
Lord Brougham says, one must pay an honest price, which 
is a good day's work. Learn, like Caesar, to count nothing 


done if anything remains to be done. Remember always 
that without the desire and the pains necessary to be con- 
siderable, you never can be so. " What a wretched, insig- 
nificant, worthless creature any one comes to be," writes 
Sterling to his son, " who does not as soon as possible bend 
his whole strength, as in stringing a stiff bow, to doing what- 
ever task lies before him ! " Life, it has been asserted, begins 
with renunciation, and "the angel of Martyrdom is brother 
to the angel of Victory." Have a purpose in life, a distinct 
aim, some goal of honourable achievement ever before you, 
and let nothing daunt or turn you aside. Be not easily re- 
pulsed. A publisher once wrote to an agent, " If you work 
hard two weeks without selling a book, you will make a 
success of it." The idea was that by so doing he would show 
himself to have that perseverance which would enable him to 
triumph over all obstacles, and would insure him success in 
any undertaking. This is what Greeley termed the " genius 
of persistence." Remember, too, that we "acquire the 
strength we have overcome." Great success, depend upon it, 
is ever the fruit of great labour. Moreover, if wealth and 
royalty even are not exempt, why should any one expect to 
be? Francis Joseph of Austria is one of the hardest of 
workers. He is always at his desk at five o'clock in the 
morning. Signing papers, and other business, keeps him 
occupied till eleven o'clock. Then he has a lunch. He 
then returns to work, remaining till four o'clock. At that 
hour he dines. The two young Vanderbilts, Cornelius and 
William K., the present heads of the family, are both great 
workers. One is first vice-president and head of finance of 
the Hudson River Railroad ; the other is second vice-president 
and master of transportation. Each knows his business thor- 
oughly. The most striking thing about either of them, it is 
said, is the fact that they work as hard as if they were hired 
by the job, which they are by the way, and that they are 
perfectly democratic, and accessible to anybody who has 


business with them. When Cornelius was twenty he was 
made a clerk, at the bottom of the ladder, and his youngest 
brother, William K., was put at work in the same office the 
next year. " For more than eighteen years now they have 
bowed down to it in that great concern, and they are far 
better trained than their father ever was in all the details of 
the business." 

When the famous light-house, Pharos, was built, its archi- 
tect was commanded to place the king's name upon it. He 
did so, but first cut his own name deep in the rock and cov- 
ered it with cement. When the latter had hardened he 
inscribed thereon the name of the king. The storms and 
billows at length wore this away, leaving the name of the 
architect permanently carved in the solid rock. The super- 
ficial student is simply working upon cement ; the real worker, 
the true scholar, upon the solid rock. The results achieved 
by the one are but transient and fleeting ; the work of the 
other shall endure. "Life is short, art long, opportunity 
fleeting, experiment slippery, judgment difficult." These 
first words of the medical aphorisms of the wise Hippocrates, 
as Blackie tells us, were set down as a significant sign at the 
porch of the benevolent science of healing more than five 
hundred years before the Christian era ; and they remain 
still the wisest text which a man can take with him as a 
directory into any sphere of life. " Thy life," says Carlyle, 
and he never wrote anything finer nor more true, " wert 
thou the pitifullest of all the sons of earth, is no idle dream, 
but a solemn reality. It is thy own. It is all thou hast to 
confront eternity with. Work, then, like a star, unhasting, 
yet unresting." 


Ube Single 

" The undivided will 

'Tis that compels the elements, and wrings 
A human music from the indifferent air." 

" The wind never blows fair for that sailor who knows not to what port 
he is bound." 

" Do right, and fear no one. Thou mayest be sure that with all thy con- 
sideration for the world, thou wilt never satisfy the world. But if thou 
goest forward straight on thy way, not concerning thyself with the 
friendly or the unfriendly glances of men, then thou hast conquered the 
world, and it is subject to thee." 

"!F thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of 
light," is the familiar declaration of Holy Writ. Words 
more true were never uttered. Is not here one secret, at 
least, of the vast difference in men as regards success in life ? 
There are many men alert and active enough, if that were 
all, but somehow all they do amounts to nothing. They 
seem perpetually running to waste. They form great proj- 
ects, and toil terribly, but there is no great underlying 
purpose. It is this which makes every stroke tell. One 
can see with half an eye that something more than mere 
activity is needed. Of what avail to fill your granary with 
the fruits of harvest if it is all to be destroyed by rats and 
vermin ? A man ought not merely to act, but to act with a 
purpose. Purpose and persistency are ever essential to the 
highest success. It was said of the first Napoleon that in 
conversation he always went directly at the heart of a 


subject, whatever it might be. With an unerring instinct 
in investigation, he would strike at the soul of a mystery, 
and unravel it, caring little for unimportant particulars. 
Hosvever this may have been concerning his conversation, 
we know that it was pre-eminently true concerning his con- 
duct of the art of war. He won his victories chiefly by 
rapid concentration of his forces on a single point of the 
enemy's line. A wise and eager hunter is sure to select the 
fattest of a herd, and, leaving the rest, to pursue and capture 
that one. The value of a burning-glass lies in its power to 
focalize a mass of sunbeams on one point ; and the secret of 
success in any direction consists in having one thing to do, 
and doing it. A vigorous writer calls a lack of purpose 
among men mental shiftlessness. Nothing is more noticeable 
in men who have achieved great ends than a certain persist- 
ency which nothing seems able to daunt. Defeated, perhaps, 
times without number, they yet clung to their ideal, pursuing 
by night and by day the object dear to their hearts, until at 
length they were crowned with success. It is for ever true 
that the martyrs of one age become the heroes of the next. 
Contumely, slander, ridicule, abuse what are these to a soul 
throbbing with a great ideal ? They are simply not to the 
purpose ; they must stand aside. There are men, moreover, 
as Emerson says, who rise refreshed on hearing a threat. 
What sight more thrilling than that of a human being 
absorbed, taken possession of by some grand conception, 
and forgetting everything else until the daring achievement 
is wrought 1 It is " the quiet lightning deed " that these 
men prize, not " the applauding thunder at its heels which 
men call fame." The fame is sure to come, but not because 
it is run after, as Longfellow has well said. Before such 
men civilization strides onward ; remote nations become 
neighbourhoods ; rivers are spanned, mountains tunnelled, 
broad oceans become ferries, and the world itself is trans- 
formed into a vast whispering-gallery. The products of 


every clime are at our very doors. Comforts, conveniences, 
and even luxuries come trooping into the homes of the 
common people, and men bask in the sunshine of prosperity, 
forgetful often that it was simply the single eye, the strenuous 
purpose of a great soul, that wrought it. It is well for us 
that such souls are not easily daunted or intimidated. 
Fulton can well afford to bide his time, even though his 
great achievement be looked upon for the day as simply his 
folly. To-morrow sets him right. Stephenson remonstrated 
with by his sceptical neighbours, and triumphantly asked if 
it would not be embarrassing should a cow invade the track, 
quietly replies that it would be embarrassing indeed " for the 
coo." Field crosses and recrosses the stormy Atlantic. Ten 
years of defeat and failure cannot daunt him. On the heels 
of all comes the unlooked-for barrier of a great civil war. 
At length that cable is laid, and Europe and Asia are at our 
very doors. The labours of Hercules, indeed ! Mr. Field 
in his great enterprise, we are told, crossed the ocean nearly 
fifty times. His perseverance conquered ; and now ocean 
telegraphy unites all continents, and brings the East and the 
West together to talk around one fireside. Then, too, if 
ever a moment approached the sublime, it was that in which 
the veteran Morse sat at his instrument on the stage of the 
great hall in New York and sent his message around the 
world. It would be difficult to find an instance to equal it 
in grandeur. Never, surely, has man approached so near to 
divinity in his control of material forces as this. There is 
that within the soul of these men which sleeps not night or 
day until its end is gained. As Gilfillan finely said of 
Napoleon, he was profound, as well as brilliantly successful. 
Unlike most conquerors, his mind was big with a great 
thought which was never fully developed. He was not 
raised, as many have stupidly thought, upon the breath of 
popular triumph. It was not chance that made him king, 
or that crowned him, or that won his battles. " He was a 


cumulative conqueror. Every victory, every peace, every 
law, every movement, was the step of a giant stair winding 
toward universal dominion. All was systematic, all was full 
of purpose, all was growingly progressive. No rest was 
possible. He might have noonday breathing-times, but there 
was no nightly repose. ' Onward ! ' was the voice ever sound- 
ing behind him. Nor was this the voice of his nation, ever 
insatiate for novelty and conquest; nor was it the mere 
' Give, give ' of his restless ambition. It was the voice of 
his ideal, the cry of his unquenchable soul. He became the 
greatest of warriors and conquerors, or at least one of the 
greatest, because, like a true painter, he came down upon 
the practice of his art from a stern and lofty conception or 
hypothesis to which everything must yield. As Michael 
Angelo subjected all things to his pursuit and the ideal he 
had formed of it, painted the Crucifixion by the side of a 
writhing slave, and, pious though he was, would have broken 
up the true cross for pencils ; so Napoleon pursued his ideal 
through tempests of death-hail and seas of blood, and looked 
upon poison and gunpowder and men's lives as merely the 
box of colours necessary to his new and terrible art. When 
we try Napoleon," he continues, " by human standards, and 
compare his scheme with that of other conquerors, both seem 
transcendently superb. He saw clearly that for Europe 
there was no alternative between the surges of anarchy and 
the absolute government of one master mind. He saw that 
what was called ' balance of power ' was a feeble and useless 
dream, and that all things in Europe were tending either to 
anarchy or a new absolutism ; either to the dominion of 
millions, or of that one who should be found a match for 
millions. He thought himself that one. His iron hand 
could in the first place grasp the great sceptre, and his wise 
and powerful mind would afterward consolidate his dominion 
by just and liberal laws. 'On this hint he spake' in 
cannon. This purpose he pursued with an undeviating 


energy, which seemed for a season sure and irresistible as 
one of the laws of nature." 

It seems amazing to the casual observer that any one 
man could exert so prodigious an influence over his fellow- 
men. Power like this has a singular fascination for all of 
us. The wizard enchanter engraved his name not only on 
the stones and marbles of the capital, but on the very heart 
of France. " Cut an inch deeper," said a member of the 
Old Guard to the surgeon who was probing his wounds, " and 
you will find the emperor" meaning in his heart. Now, 
what was the secret of this man's power 1 One secret, surely, 
was his marvellous faculty of concentration the single eye. 
A keen observer would have discovered this trait when the 
obscure and untitled boy was studying mathematics at Brienne 
no less truly than when, a few years later, all Europe was 
trembling under the measured tramp of his armies. 

Take another instance. Two hundred years ago, in north- 
western Europe, a conglomeration of barbarous tribes were 
striving each for the supremacy. Presently a man appears 
a man with a great purpose. He was of the Romanoff 
family. His own right arm and trusty sword were all his 
equipment. But he resolves from the first to make himself 
master of the situation. He is determined his country shall 
be respected among foreign powers. This one purpose takes 
full possession of him. To compass this end he leaves no 
stone unturned. He travels abroad to gain the requisite 
knowledge. We find him in London perfecting himself in 
matters of government, finance, and commerce. Again he 
appears working at the trade of a common ship-carpenter at 
the naval yards of Saardam in Holland. He perfects him- 
self in all the accomplishments requisite to a great ruler. 
He is determined to lift up his people socially and politically. 
He puts a premium on skill and learning wherever found. 
By liberal rewards he induces men of rare accomplishments 
in all directions to reside in his dominions. No price is too 
(79) 8 


great, no toil too arduous, so long as his end is gained. 
Now, note the result. " The silent rivers and widespread 
lakes of Muscovy are suddenly made white with the sails of 
trade ; her vast plains are covered with waving crops of 
golden grain. The magnificent city of St. Petersburg, with 
its marble palaces, arises like magic out of the icy swamps 
of the Neva. A powerful navy issues from the unfre- 
quented ports of the Baltic, and Europe is astonished by 
the sudden apparition of a gigantic sovereignty, with its 
powerful and disciplined armies, its numerous and well-ap- 
pointed fleets, entering into a fierce and victorious conflict 
with the veteran troops of Sweden, headed by Charles XII." 
And all this due to the concentrated might of one man 
Peter the Great ! 

It is this " undivided will" which works miracles. It is 
men of this stamp who "change the front of the world." 
How in contrast to these appears the Jack at all trades and 
master of none one sees on every hand ! The attempted 
versatility of certain men reminds one of the sign in an 
obscure London shop window "Goods removed, messages 
taken, carpets beaten, and poetry composed on any subject ;" 
or of that one in Paris of a certain Monsieur Kenard, who 
announces himself as " a public scribe, who digests accounts, 
explains the language of flowers, and sells fried potatoes." 

All who have watched the careers of their schoolfellows 
must have noted how often the brilliant member of his 
class has succeeded in after life only in making of himself 
a brilliant failure ; while the commonplace plodder, whose 
horoscope was far from bright or promising in those earlier 
years, has easily overtaken and passed his more favoured 
rival. One need not look far to find the secret of it all. 
With those who have failed there is almost sure to be found 
the inevitable factor of shiftlessness. Easily dissatisfied, 
they have drifted from one vocation to another, veritable 
rolling stones, until all purpose and energy and stamina have 


disappeared, and they have finally found themselves forced 
by sheer necessity into the occupations and drudgeries of 
mere menials. It is the old story of the lump of gold con- 
tinually bartered with ever-increasing ill fortune until the 
poor old grindstone, received in final exchange, is precipi- 
tated by a crowning stroke of ill luck into the stream. Many 
a man of respectable parts to begin with has thus frittered 
his life away. One must learn to take into reckoning " the 
long result of time," and not alone mere present gain. May 
we not discover right here, too, an explanation of that which 
has often puzzled more than one of us namely, the fact 
that so many men of fine scholarship and much erudition are 
so often inefficient, and fail to impress themselves in any 
wise upon their fellows ? They have stores of learning, but 
it is like lumber in a garret it is not available. They seem 
not to know how to use it or to make it effective. And so 
they remain apart from the great, busy, throbbing life of 
men, like driftwood or leaves that have been whirled into an 
eddy by the rushing tide, and left behind ; or like stranded 
ships upon a bar, splendidly built and finely equipped, but 
comparatively useless unless some power can be found to float 
them. Or, to change the figure, they remind one of the 
great Corliss engine at the Exposition perfect in every 
part, but useless until the band is on and the connection 
formed. Somehow, with most of these men, the band is 
never on. 

How ponderous that mass of wheels and rods and levers 
on yonder railway ! How immense the weight, how motion- 
less ! Who can stir it ? But stay ! Let the engineer once 
open that throttle, and see ! she stirs ! she rouses herself ! 
All those mighty, hidden forces, which remind one more of 
omnipotence than all else which the hands of man have 
chained, begin to assert their sway, and lo, what power! 
A las ! in these men of whom we are speaking, this force, so 
essential, seems for ever lacking. The one great requisite 


never comes. The omission is a fatal one. It is the pres- 
ence of a great, controlling, all-absorbing purpose, that shall 
make effective all the rest. It is the single eye ; it is the 
undaunted will, bringing into subjection all the other powers, 
and making them pay it tribute. Storrs has given us a fine 
picture of this. " See the lawyer," he says, " before a jury 
in a case where his convictions are strong and his feelings 
are enlisted. He saw long ago, as he glanced over the box, 
that five of those in it were sympathetic with him; as he 
went on, he became equally certain of seven : the number 
now has risen to ten ; but two are still left whom he feels 
that he has not persuaded or mastered. Upon them he now 
concentrates his power, summing up the facts, setting forth 
anew and more forcibly the principles, urging upon them his 
view of the case with a more and more intense action of his 
mind upon theirs, until one only is left. Like the blow of 
a hammer, continually repeated till the iron bar crumbles 
beneath it, his whole force comes with ceaseless percussion 
on that one mind till it has yielded and accepts the convic- 
tion on which the pleader's purpose is fixed. Men say after- 
ward, ' He surpassed himself.' It was only because the 
singleness of his aim gave unity, intensity, and overpowering 
energy to the mind." 

It is this faculty, then, of throwing ourselves with un- 
divided power upon the immediate work in hand, whatever 
it be, of which we speak, This power enables a man to 
forget himself and his surroundings, to lose sight of all that 
preceded and all that shall follow the one great absorbing 
task which has come with the hour and confronts him. As 
Sydney Smith says of study, the only valuable kind is "to 
read so heartily that dinner-time comes two hours before 
you expected it ; to sit with your Livy before you and hear 
the geese cackling that saved the Capitol, and to see with your 
own eyes the Carthaginian sutlers gathering up the rings of 
the Roman knights after the battle of Cannae, and heaping 


them into bushels ; and to be so intimately present at the 
actions you are reading of, that when anybody knocks at the 
cloor, it will take you two or three seconds to determine 
whether you are in your own study or in the plains of Lom- 
bardy, looking at Hannibal's weather-beaten face, and admir- 
ing the splendour of his single eye." This is concentration 
this is power, and the source of still greater power. This attri- 
bute it is that sends the soul straight to its object. It is De- 
mosthenes swaying his listening auditory. He tells them of 
their wrongs, of the injustice done them, of the tyranny of 
their oppressor, until, swayed to and fro, rocked with swell- 
ing passions and emotions like a forest rocked beneath the 
sway of the storm when the whirlwind is abroad, they cry 
out in passionate utterance, with curved lip and blanched 
cheek and clenched fist, " Let us march against Philip ! " 
It is Brinsley Sheridan resolved on the impeachment of 
Hastings, and bringing every point to bear in that marvel- 
lous speech until he carries the day. It voices itself in 
Perry's famous "We have met the enemy, and they are 
ours ! " Its presence is unmistakable, and where it exists 
success may be predicted with almost the certainty of fate. 
Napoleon, being told that the Alps stood in the way of his 
armies, exclaims, "There shall be no Alps!" and the won- 
drous road of the Simplon is built. Given this attribute in 
a man's character in its fullest manifestation, and there is no 
limit to his possibilities of accomplishment. It takes pos- 
session of the boy Warren Hastings, as he lies upon the 
grass under the trees of the old ancestral estate at Dayles- 
ford, which had passed into other hands, and confers a power 
that makes the dream of this boy one of those dreams that 
come true. 

Lowell, in one of his "Biglow Papers," makes the Rev. 
Homer Wilbur say : " People are apt to confound mere 
alertness of mind with attention. The one is but the flying 
abroad of all the faculties to the open doors and windows of 


every passing rumour ; the other is the concentration of 
every one of them in a single focus, as in the alchemist over 
his alembic at the moment of expected projection. Atten- 
tion is the stuff that memory is made of, and memory is 
accumulated genius." It is well to keep this in mind. 
Doubtless one great obstacle to this singleness of aim, or 
concentration, is the mistaken impression that one must 
know almost everything. One thus, by attempting to spread 
himself over too large a surface, soon finds that he is able 
to do nothing really as it should be done. Here was the 
one striking weakness of Coleridge ; and Sir James Mack- 
intosh, according to all accounts, must be placed in the same 
category. Curran, the Master of the Rolls, said to Mr. Grat- 
tan, " You would be the greatest man of your age, Grattan, 
if you would buy a few yards of red tape and tie up your 
bills and papers." Sydney Smith, referring to the remark, 
declares that this was the fault or the misfortune of Mack- 
intosh. " He never knew," he tells us, " the use of red 
tape, and was utterly unfit for the common business of life. 
That a guinea represented a quantity of shillings, and -that 
it would barter for a quantity of cloth, he was well aware ; 
but the accurate number of the baser coin, or the just mea- 
surement of the manufactured article to which he was en- 
titled for his gold, he could never learn, and it was impossible 
to teach him. Hence his life was often an example of the 
ancient and melancholy struggle of genius with the difficulties 
of existence." 

Matthew Arnold has truly said that we have not time nor 
strength to deal with half the matters which are thrown upon 
our mind, and they prove a useless load to us. A paragraph 
recently went the rounds of the press, headed, " Never For- 
get Anything." This prompted a rejoinder from one of the 
most brilliant representatives of New York journalism on 
"The Use of Forgetfulness." It is an old proverb, he says, 
" Da mihi, Domine, scire quod sciendum est." And he further 


notes the instance of the great Grecian general Themistocles, 
who, when some one spoke to him of an art of memory, 
answered, "Teach me rather to forget This happily illus- 
trates," he continues, "the disparity between what we re- 
ceive in our minds and what we have use for. The truth 
is, the great want of the day is concentration. Instead of 
acquiring that which we can digest and retain, our education 
is undertaken as if our life were endless, and our power of 
attention and recollection inexhaustible. It is not the om- 
nivorous reader who makes his mark in the world or best 
does his work, but the man who concentrates his faculties 
on those especial subjects which come up before him in his 
life-work. When Agassiz was asked for his opinion touching 
a matter which bore upon the chemical analysis of a plant, 
he replied, ' I know nothing about chemistry,' and refused 
to give an opinion. He was a naturalist, not a chemist. It 
would be well to imitate the example of the great naturalist. 
Life is short ; time is fleeting. The channels of knowledge 
run wider and deeper than ever before, and multiply a thou- 
sand-fold. It is but an infinitesimal part of the vast treasury 
of knowledge that man can grasp and use. The mind itself 
can retain but a given quantity ; and just as we thin out the 
useless books of our libraries that we may appropriate the 
space to volumes of lasting worth, as we pull up the weeds 
in our garden that the flowers may find room to grow, so it 
is well for us to get rid of our mental weeds, and by using 
the means of forgetfulness relieve ourselves of the useless 
rubbish which encumbers the mind and hinders the growth 
and development of a true culture." 

If you have anything to say, condense it ; make it brief 
and strong. When the famous Dr. South was asked if 
he was going to preach a short sermon, he said, " No ; I 
have not had time to prepare one." A clear, condensed 
statement, in the pulpit or out of it, means hard work and 
thorough preparation. " If you want to do substantial 


work, concentrate ; and if you want to give others the 
benefit of your work, condense." 

The fact is, in order to attain to the highest success, one 
must learn early in his career that there are many things 
that are to be resolutely pushed aside. The vision becomes 
blurred, the energies weakened, by attempting to compass 
too wide a field. "It is always good to know something," 
was a wise utterance of one of the wisest of men. But by 
this he did not mean to assert that mere indiscriminate 
knowledge is always good. It is undeniably true that 
division of attention is with most men death to enthusiasm 
and success. "Beauty," declared Michael Angelo, "is the 
purgation of superfluities." To know, then, what wisely to 
omit, what resolutely to exclude from the realm of one's 
knowledge, is no small achievement. It is this that reveals 
the master. The laboured and useless acquirements of some 
men, and their ponderous and inefficient movements, remind 
one of Sir Robert Peel's description of a certain kind of 
eloquence, " The smallest possible quantity of common 
sense enveloped in the greatest multitude of equivocal 

One, then, must rigorously choose and maintain his 
specialty, in order to achieve any real success. This single- 
ness of purpose reveals itself at once. It is manifest in all 
that a man does. It is not easy of imitation. The bold 
front, the confident mien, may be assumed, but no one is 
deceived by it. One easily discovers a lurking falter in the 
tone, a hesitancy in the speech, a something in the glance 
which brings betrayal. All sincere and simple souls speak 
and act from the centre. While others are vacillating, they 
go directly to their object. Where the single eye is wanting, 
there is a tremor in the lip, a lagging in the gait, an in- 
decision, subtile but unmistakable, in the whole presence and 
air and bearing. There is "mud behind the eye." The 
' open sesame " of the true prince is honoured at once, but 


woe to the pretender. How many are the might-have- 
beens ! Right here, probably, lies the -secret of many a 
failure. These took one hand to their work, instead of 
throwing their whole strength upon it and their whole heart 
into it. How many such might have been giants who are 
only dwarfs ! How many a one has died " with all his 
music in him ! " How many a mute inglorious Milton sleeps 
unknown because of failure just here ! It is a lamentable 
fact, but one which must often have been noticed, that the 
children of those who have raised themselves to social 
position and influence by their own personal effort, almost 
invariably waste what their parents have saved. Superior 
advantages and brighter prospects are on the side of the 
children. There appears no good reason why they should 
not occupy even a higher place than their wise and per- 
severing fathers. In reality they come to nothing. Take 
that case of the younger Cicero, for instance, or the son of 
Chesterfield ; the one with all his advantages a mere " dry 
pump with no suction ; " the other, little more than a block- 
head : in both, the great purpose wanting. There is much 
truth in that remark of Cassius : 

" The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, 
But in ourselves, that we are underlings." 

One is perpetually reminded by some men of the remark 
once made concerning a certain personage, that he had spent 
all his life in letting down empty buckets into empty wells, 
and was frittering away his age in trying to draw them up 

In contrast with such, what an inspiration is the fine 
spirit so noticeable in certain men ! By them life's Gordian 
knots are instantly severed. Perplexities and vexations 
vanish like fog before a bracing nor'-wester. Surveyed from 
a certain standpoint, history itself seems but a record of 
the capacity or incapacity of a few individuals. Blot from 


its pages the few great names which mark epochs, and what 
is left seems surprisingly small. The history of the world 
shows us that men are not to be counted by their numbers, 
but, among other things, "by their clear and steady resolu- 
tion of either ceasing to live or of achieving a particular 
object ; which, when it is once formed, strikes off a load of 
manacles and chains, and gives free space to all heavenly and 
heroic feelings." 

See how this spirit manifests itself in all great souls, 
from Saint Paul down. " This one thing I do ; " " None of 
these things move me." Here was the secret of that simple 
soul which something had " compelled to be seraphic." So 
of Socrates. " A voice had spoken in his soul, and he 
obeyed it ; he would do nothing else but obey it. He was 
irresistible." See it in Pelopidas and Epaminondas prefer- 
ring death rather than surrender their great purpose of 
humbling Sparta. Note it in Pompey. It was not neces- 
sary for him to live, he said, but it was necessary that he 
should be at a certain point at a certain hour. In Caesar 
and Napoleon we discover the same trait. And coming 
down to the greatest soldier of these modern times, we find 
the same spirit voicing itself in " I propose to move immedi- 
ately upon your works;" and again in the words since so 
familiar, "I shall fight it out on this line if it takes all 
summer." Speaking of this very trait, Sherman, in that 
remarkable letter to which reference has already been made, 
says, " I repeat, you do M'Pherson and myself too much 
honour. At Belmont you manifested your traits, neither 
of us being near. At Donelson, also, you illustrated your 
whole character. I was not near, and M'Pherson in too 
subordinate a capacity to influence you." After referring to 
his bravery, unselfishness, and honesty, he further says, 
" But the chief characteristic is the simple faith in success 

you have always manifested This faith gave you victory 

at Shiloh and Vicksburg. Also, when you have completed 


your best preparations you go into battle without hesitation, 
as at Chattanooga, no doubts, no answers ; and I tell you 
it was this that made us act with confidence. I knew that 
wherever I was you thought of me, and if I got into a tight 
place you would help me out if alive. My only point of 
doubt was in your knowledge of grand strategy and in books of 
science and history ; but I confess your common sense seems 
to have supplied all these." What was this "common sense," 
to which General Sherman thus refers, but the very quality 
of which we are speaking, that single eye which pierces 
through all surroundings, however chaotic, and sees at a 
glance what to do and how to do it ; that simplicity of pur- 
pose which carries the soul straight to its mark ; that un- 
erring instinct of victory which compels success ? Wherever 
one discovers great achievement, he is sure to find behind it 
this inevitable simplicity of purpose. Rest assured that 
nothing great will ever be accomplished without it. It is 
true that at intervals certain men appear who seem capable 
of great accomplishment in almost any direction ; equal to 
any amount of work, however arduous or varied, men of 
phenomenal talent and great versatility, like Da Vinci, for 
instance; but these are the rare exceptions which prove the 
rule. Let a man devote five years of persistent study and 
application to any one thing, and he will be surprised to find 
with what ease and comparative pleasure the task which at 
first seemed so arduous and irksome may be performed. 
Truly has Fuller declared that he that sips of many arts 
drinks of none ; and Bacon, in his " Letter of Expostulation 
to Coke," observes : " You, having a large and fruitful mind, 
should not so much labour what to speak as to find what to 
leave unspoken. Rich soils are often to be weeded." Ad- 
vice like this might well be heeded by some of our more 
voluminous authors. One might then hope to avail himself 
of what is most valuable in them, and yet have time for 
something else besides. ' ; Why cannot authors," some one 


asks, "take the time and trouble to condense their wisdom 
and learning ; for, really, who of the most diligent of their 
readers can hope to master even the truly valuable works of 
our great writers 1 There is Carlyle, for instance, with his 
thirty octavo volumes, and Ruskin with twenty. Both have 
amply illustrated the beauty and strength of the English 
language, but years alone are sufficient to do justice to these 
many volumes. Who doubts that each of these volumes 
might, not unprofitably, be cut down one -half ; or better, 
that all might be condensed into a few handy volumes of 
reasonable size?" It has been well said of Ruskin, that were 
he to set forth and illustrate in a single volume the philos- 
ophy of art which he has spread over a score of volumes, 
there would be some possibility of a busy world acquainting 
itself with his principles and his spirit. But when one 
remembers that there are a hundred other eminent names 
besides, each with twenty, thirty, fifty, or a hundred volumes, 
all worthy of reading and study, one is simply overwhelmed, 
and is compelled to implore future writers, at least, to sift 
and resift their ideas and words, so that they may be brought 
into as small a compass as possible. Harriet Martineau con- 
densed all that was valuable in the " Positive Philosophy " of 
Comte into a single volume ; and Froude tells us that the 
great Spinoza compressed into three volumes the whole of his 
system of speculative philosophy, which was the work of a 
lifetime, and which revolutionized all previous systems. Had 
he been like certain others we know, he might have left 
mayhap a hundred volumes for dust and the moths. The 
voice of experience, the pressure of the times, the demand of 
the age, the conspicuous examples of failure and of success, 
all combine to emphasize the truth that a man must go 
straight to the mark if he would win. 

When Louis Napoleon started off for the German cam- 
paign, the enthusiastic Parisians, we are told, removed his 
horses and drew his carriage through the thoroughfares 


themselves. But it was all a farce. Presently came Worth, 
and Metz, and Sedan. The Emperor is a prisoner, the 
Empress is fleeing by stealth to England, and the eyes of the 
French people are opened. The purpose behind the German 
bayonets was more than a match for French display. The 
secret is the same in all realms, whether of art, or science, or 
what not. Hunt, in his " Talks about Art," gives emphasis 
to the desirability in a painter of that simplicity of eye which 
is the only simplicity which can and must be learned. 
" Think all you can. Put in as little hand work as possible, 
and as much intelligence. Permit yourself the luxury of 
doing it in the simplest way." Of similar import were the 
strong and noble words of Ex-Secretary Evarts to a body of 
theological students : " In trying cases, lawyers make little 
of their knowledge of Justinian and Coke. So the learning 
of the clergy should not be produced in sermons to the poor 
and weak and wicked. The learning should be assimilated 
into the growth of the mind, and the winged words of the 
preacher be sent at the foe in front, and not scattered among 
the squadrons on the sides." In the same vein, also, is the 
excellent advice of a fine authority on literary composition : 
" Say the most possible in the least space. Pitch right into 
your subject. Make the title and first sentence so that it 
must be read ; and so of the second, no matter what has pre- 
ceded or is to follow." This has the true ring. The great 
fault with much would-be fine writing seems to be, that its 
author, to begin with, had nothing to say, and then has 
taken for ever to say it. It is wonderful what power and 
control over one's faculties may be acquired if one persist- 
ently keeps the one great and supreme object before the soul. 
The mind is naturally a vagrant, prone to wander into all 
sorts of by-ways, unless kept steadily and resolutely to its 
purpose and to its work. " Wool-gathering " is its proverbial 
characteristic. Once under control of a great purpose, how- 
ever, all lesser objects can happily be placed under tribute as 


vassals. The night before the celebrated battle of Pharsalia, 
which was to decide the fate of the known world, Brutus 
was in his tent reading and making notes from his author 
with the pen. 

There is nothing more striking than this power of con- 
centration possessed by certain men, that disciplined self- 
control which knows how to create its own solitude at will. 
It is indeed no small accomplishment, the learning " to 
command one's time and think one's own thoughts amid 
the most feverish environments." But some of our finest 
treasures of English literature have been created amid sur- 
roundings most busy and distracting, and seemingly most 
unfavourable. Some of the most laborious literary under- 
takings have thus been prosecuted. It was in the midst of 
engrossing political duties that Niebuhr carried on his his- 
torical labours. In the intervals of a busy mercantile life 
Roscoe produced his Histories of Lorenzo de Medici and 
Leo X. It was in the midst of a restless and feverish 
career that Scaliger, Buchanan, and Erasmus accomplished 
their gigantic tasks. Or, take for instance in these modern 
times that lovely creation, Edwin Arnold's " The Light of 
Asia." It came not from cloister or solitude, but right from 
the heart of busy London, born amid the throng and uproar 
of the great metropolis, its author editor-in-chief of one of 
the great London dailies, The Daily Telegraph, a paper with 
an average circulation of a quarter of a million copies. That 
this writer of " leaders," addressing every morning so large a 
circle, should have produced from out the hurly-burly of his 
daily occupation such a poem, is indeed a marvel. As 
Channing of London well says, "That amidst the respon- 
sibilities, interruptions, anxieties, harassing cares, and ever 
varying distractions of such a life, a poet could evoke, in his 
few hours for quiet thought, an epic in eight books on one of 
the loftiest themes for spiritual contemplation, and one of 
the purest ideal types of a heavenly human life known in 


history, is certainly a surprising instance of concentrated 
power." And the same writer further affirms, that to his 
certain knowledge the book was only conceived, begun within 
the year, and was perfected and published during one of the 
most disturbed and trying periods that the nation had passed 
through for a generation at least. Power like this is to be 
coveted. To be able, as Byron has felicitously put it, thus 
to steal from " all one has been or yet may be," and lose 
one's self entirely in the present duty, is certainly invaluable 
to a busy man. Charles Kingsley possessed it in a marked 
degree. In that charming volume, " Letters and Memories " 
of his life, we are told that his holidays were few and far 
between in his life of labour, but when they came, he could 
give himself wholly up to them, thanks to his " blessed habit 
of intensity," which he declared had been his greatest help 
in life. " I go at what I am about," he used to say, " as if 
there were nothing else in the world for the time being. 
That's the secret of all hard-working men ; but most of them 
can't carry it into their amusements." As Thomas Hughes 
said of him, his was " a spirit of fearless and manly grappling 
with difficulties ; a spirit of vigorous, prompt, and rigorous 
carrying out of whatever was taken in hand ; a spirit of gen- 
erous and hearty co-operation with fellow-workers, a wide 
range of interest, not meaning by this, scattered, desultory 
thought, but thought like Napoleon's, ready to be concen- 
trated at once where the battle must be fought." 

Many a failure in life has been due to the fact that there 
has been more than one object present to the mind, a double 
vision in place of a single picture before a single eye. 
Secondary considerations have been allowed to confuse the 
mind and thwart the purpose. Expediency has been con- 
sulted until the native thrill of resolution has died out. 
Simplicity of purpose suffers not from the loss of energy, 
which is inevitable where there is a scattering of effort. 
Forty years ago a young mechanic took a bath in the river 


Clyde. While swimming from shore to shore he discerned 
a beautiful bank, uncultivated, and he then and there re- 
solved to be the owner of it, and to adorn it and build 
upon it the finest mansion in all the burgh, and name it 
in honour of the maiden to whom he was espoused. " Last 
summer," says a well-known American, " I had the pleasure 
of dining in that princely mansion, and of receiving this fact 
from the lips of the great ship-builder of the Clyde." That 
one purpose was made the ruling passion of his life, and all 
the energies of his soul were put in requisition for its ac- 
complishment. It has been well said, that a steady gaze, 
a settled purpose, an unwavering earnestness, a simple 
motive, will carry a man rapidly and pleasantly to his goal, 
and spare him many troubles by the way. Instead of being 
diverted by the distractions, or misled, as loiterers through 
life are sure to be, by surrounding allurements, the simple- 
minded worker discharges his duty and presses forward 
unaffected by the hindrances by which others are delayed. 
Thoroughness in work or character is priceless. It is this 
which gives completeness to accomplishment, whether the 
thing achieved be great or small ; and this is all-important. 
In its finest manifestation, the great undertone which per- 
vades it is always this : " Whatsoever thy hand findeth to 
do, do it with thy might." One-half the failures are due 
to a lack right here. Nothing can take its place. Neither 
sagacity, nor keenness of instinct, nor absorbing toil and 
devotion to one's interests will avail where this is wanting. 
It is not so much the amount of work men do, it has been 
said, which kills them, as the way in which the work is done. 
Strains and bruises come from " dead lifts." 

It is interesting to note the sway of a great purpose 
over the soul, and its power to win men from minor con- 
siderations, which, with men generally, count for so much. 
The love of fame and the love of money, for instance, 
have great influence with most men. But the response of 


Agassiz, when urged to devote a portion of his time to 
lecturing, on account of his great popularity and the amount 
of money he would be sure to make, shows how little hold 
this consideration had upon him : " I have no time to make 
money ! " a characteristic reply. So of Beethoven. On a 
certain occasion, despondent on account of his increasing 
deafness, and almost tempted to put an end to his life, he 
said, "Art she alone, she held me back. Oh, it seemed to 
me impossible to quit this world before I had accomplished 
all of which I felt myself capable, and therefore I preserved 
this unhappy life." How, too, the strength of a great pur- 
pose has enabled men to triumph over obstacles and to 
scorn difficulty and danger ! See Locke subsisting on bread 
and water in a Dutch garret ; and Murray, the famous 
linguist, learning to write by scribbling his letters on an old 
wool-card with the end of a burnt heather-stem. Professor 
Moore, we are told, when a young man, being too poor to 
purchase Newton's " Principia," borrowed the book, and 
copied the whole of it with his own hand. Samuel Drew 
used to tighten his apron-strings "in lieu of a dinner;" and 
Heyne slept many a night upon a barn floor with only a 
book for his pillow. 

To accomplish anything, one must have an object ; he 
must keep his eye fixed on that. To be great in any direc- 
tion, one must concentrate all his strength. Divide him, and 
you conquer him ; concentrate his powers, and he becomes 
invincible. Alexander, his heart throbbing with a great 
purpose, conquers the world. Hannibal, impelled by his 
hatred to the Romans, even crosses the Alps to compass his 
design. While other men are bemoaning difficulties, and 
shrinking from dangers and obstacles, and proposing ex- 
pedients, the great soul, " without fuss or noise," takes the 
step, and lo " the mountain has been levelled, and the way 
lies open." Let the man, then, who would succeed, throw 

his whole being into one work ; let him pursue it with 
(79) 9 


relentless will and energy. Let him scorn difficulty and 
danger, and brave defeat. Let him adopt the motto which 
the Scottish editor posted in his sanctum sanctorum, "Nothing 
is worse for those who have business than the visits of those 
who have none." Let him have one dominating, ruling, 
all-pervading purpose, and compel all else to pay it tribute, 
and, rest assured, he will not long remain in doubt as to 



How use doth breed a habit in a man ! SHAKESPEARE. 

For use almost can change the stamp of nature. Ib. 

" Man is a bundle of habits." 

I trust everything under God to habit, on which in all ages the law- 
giver as well as the schoolmaster has mainly placed his reliance, habit, 
which makes everything easy, and casts the difficulties upon the deviation 
from a wonted course. LORD BROUGHAM. 

A MAN'S success in life depends so largely upon the habits 
which he forms at a very early period, that nothing would 
seem to be more important than to have the strongest 
possible conviction of this wrought into his mind at the very 
outset. " I feel as if it were not for me to record, even 
though this manuscript is intended for no eyes but mine," 
says Dickens in " David Copperfield," " how hard I worked 
at that tremendous shorthand, and all improvement appertain- 
ing to it I will only add to what I have already written 

of my perseverance at this time of my life, and of a patient 
and continuous energy which then began to be matured 
within me, and which I know to be the strong point of my 
character, if it have any strength at all, that there, on looking 
back, I find the source of my success." The great tendency 
with all of us is to form habits, to run in grooves. Fortu- 
nately this great controlling principle in human nature has its 
good side. If it indeed be true that 

"111 habits gather by unseen degrees, 
As brooks make rivers, rivers run to seas," 

132 HABIT. 

it is also true and the thought has comfort in it that by 
the blessed law of compensation this deep-rooted tendency 
works for good as well as ill ; that life's sternest duties and 
requirements, however arduous at first, become at length, 
by their continued performance, not only easy, but a source 
of real pleasure. 

A modern essayist has somewhere declared, and it seems 
to us a singularly wise remark, that no one's example is so 
dangerous to us as our own ; for when we have done a cer- 
tain thing once, it is so much easier to do it again. Habit 
forms itself by repeated action. Habits are like paths 
beaten hard by the multitude of light footsteps which go to 
and fro. No reason can be given why the fact of having 
done a thing should increase the tendency to do it ; all rea- 
son stops at this point, it is not possible to explain it. 
The pain annexed to the interruption of the habit, we are 
told, is the means by which obedience to the law is secured. 
Nature is too good a legislator to pass any act without 
annexing a smart penalty to the violation of it. No one 
thing concerning it is more curious than this very fact, that 
though we feel, possibly, no pleasure in doing that to which 
we have become accustomed, we do feel great pain from not 
doing it. A habit is something which we have. That is 
what the word means. As some one has wittily observed, 
it often becomes something which has us. Sometimes men 
shorten distances by " cutting across lots," as it is termed. 
Where they do this, a narrow strip of grass about a foot or 
fourteen inches wide will soon be destroyed, and a narrow 
strip of ground about the same width beneath it will be 
trodden hard, and that is a path. In the same way men 
form habits. 

This curious physical impulse of habit has been noted by 
Dr. Combe. "A tendency to resume the same mode of 
action at stated times," he says, "is peculiarly the charac- 
teristic of the nervous system, and on this account regu- 

HABIT. 133 

larity is of great consequence in exercising the moral and 
intellectual power. All nervous diseases have a marked 
tendency to observe regular periods ; and the natural incli- 
nation to sleep at the approach of night is another instance 
of the same fact. It is this principle of our nature which 
promotes the formation of what are called habits. If we 
repeat any kind of mental effort every day at the same hour, 
we at last find ourselves entering upon it without pre- 
meditation when the time approaches." 

The proclivities which develop and harden into habits are 
apt to reveal themselves early, and when properly encour- 
aged and patronized they have often resulted in brilliant 
achievement. Take for instance the simple propensity for 
whittling. Sam Cunard was a Scottish lad of Glasgow. He 
was clever and facile in all sorts of inventions. These 
he wrought out with his jack-knife. This seemed his only 
talent. For a long time it brought him neither money, 
credit, nor reputation. But at length there came a special 
demand for his peculiar talent. The great ship-builders 
and owners, Burns and M'lvor, wanted to increase their 
facilities for transatlantic navigation, for carrying foreign 
mails in particular. They consulted Sam. He at once set 
his wits and knife at work. The result was a model of the 
first steamship of the celebrated Cunard Line. All their 
magnificent ships have been built from that one model, 
without material alteration. This company, as every one 
knows, has now a great fleet of capacious steamships doing 
service in every sea and employing many thousand men. 
Surely Sir Samuel Cunard's jack-knife had wrought well. 
That Scottish lad's whittling propensity enabled him to retire 
from active life with an ample fortune, with the honours of 
knighthood, and the pleasure of knowing that he left his 
appreciative patrons more largely enriched even than him- 
self, and the whole world greatly benefited. Napoleon's 
boyish passion for his mimic cannon only foreshadowed the 

134 HABIT. 

terrible execution of his artillery in later years. Those 
crude charcoal sketches of Sir Joshua Reynolds's boyhood, 
under which his severely practical father had written, "Done 
by Joshua out of sheer idleness ! " foreshadowed the future 
greatness of the man. The same may be said of that portrait 
of the sleeping infant, drawn in red and black ink by the 
boy West while yet only seven years old. The truant Tom 
Gainsborough wandering along the green lanes and past the 
hedgerows of Sudbury, and seating himself amid the flapping 
clock-leaves to draw, betokened even then " the first English 
painter of English landscape." One of his paintings to-day 
is worth a fortune to its possessor ; indeed, one of them was 
but recently sold for the sum of ten thousand guineas. So, 
too, of many another youth it may in truth be said, "the 
child is father of the man." 

It has been said that we come into the world a bunch of 
susceptibilities. The noiseless years pass on, and we emerge 
into maturity "a bundle of iron habits." Ten thousand 
influences are perpetually at work upon us ; invisible powers 
mould and fashion us. We look into a man's face and 
receive a certain impression, but all of the real man is out 
of sight. The habits of thought which are transforming his 
life and character are hidden ; yet they leave their impress 
just as truly as the sculptor leaves his upon the marble 
block. Note him at his work. A stroke here, another 
there, a thousand gentle touches, and presently you perceive 
that the curve of the lip, the play of the nostril, the expres- 
sion of the eye, have all been growing under his hand, until 
at length the striking countenance, powerful, impressive, 
grand, stands out before you " the artist's thought severely 
beautiful, fixed for ever in the solid stone." So with men. 
The lofty aspiration, the benevolent thought, the sympathy, 
the incorruptible integrity, all reveal themselves. There are 
some faces that need no letter of commendation. Like the 
shining face of Moses descending the mount, the countenance 

HABIT. 135 

betrays the luminous secret. Contrast with these the bleared 
visage, the sodden look, the dull and lifeless expression of 
this other, and see what evil habit has wrought in the 
features of the prodigal. 

Every man carries within himself to a great extent his 
own destiny. Undaunted will, unflinching energy, ever 
and everywhere make their mark and bring success. In 
business, who is the man that succeeds? The man who 
thinks clearly, who plans wisely, and executes promptly and 
with untiring energy. "Is there one," says the eminent 
John Hunter, "whom difficulties dishearten? He will do 
little. Is there one who will conquer ? That kind of man 
never fails." Difficulty and hardship bring out and develop 
the latent powers. It is the habitual blow on blow which 
makes the arm of the blacksmith so strong. We are uncon- 
sciously educated by our surroundings, our habitual associ- 
ations, as well as by our habits of thought. Our compan- 
ions, our books, the conversations of every day, leave their 
impress for good or ill. We are not the same to-day as 
yesterday. In the chamber of the boy who ran away to sea 
was found the picture of a splendid ship under full sail. It 
hung upon the wall. It greeted him every time he entered 
the room. When he awoke in the morning his eyes turned 
to it, his thoughts dwelt upon it. The desire to be a sailor 
became at length the ruling passion of his life. That picture 
was the secret of it all. This it was that at length became 
the occasion of his flight. 

The law is universal. We see its influence in every 
direction. "There is no degree of disguise," says a dis- 
tinguished essayist, " which human nature may not be made 
to assume from habit. It grows in every direction in which 
it is trained, and accommodates itself to every circumstance 
which caprice or design places in its way." Many persons 
wonder why men of great fortune continue to labour, instead 
of resting and enjoying themselves, and attribute it to mere 

136 HABIT. 

love of gain. They forget that long habit becomes second 
nature ; that such men find rest in constant occupation, and 
that the enjoyment prescribed for them would be the severest 
punishment that could be inflicted. Take the case of A. T. 
Stewart or William B. Astor, for instance. A few years 
since, Mr. Stewart spent regularly fourteen hours of the 
twenty-four behind his desk in his private office, working 
daily harder than any one in his employ, and as unapproach- 
able as the Grand Lama. Even those who succeeded in ob- 
taining an interview achieved it only after running such a 
gauntlet of interrogations and cross-questions at the hands of 
the various personages set for the great merchant's defence 
that they were not likely soon to renew the attempt. For 
more than fifty years William B. Astor was a daily worker 
at his desk. Sentence such men as these to idleness, and 
before many years, not to say months, they would in all prob- 
ability be in their graves. Long-continued habit has made 
their work a second nature, and without it they would be 
utterly wretched and unhappy. 

Habit increases our facility for work. It is the secret of 
skill in all realms of human endeavour. It gives rapidity to 
the fingers of the knitter, and confers the wonderful exe- 
cution possessed by the master musician. The rapid click, 
click of the nimble type, dropping like leaden hail from the 
practised hand of the skilful compositor, is the result of this 
same all-prevailing law. Statesman, artisan, editor, all find 
their work easier as they repeat their efforts, just as the per- 
sistent habit of lifting heavy weights made Winship the 
modern Hercules that he was. The skill of the Japanese 
juggler and the marvellous feats of the gymnast are due to 
the same law. 

It is all important to remember, too, that unless the habit 
of doing what a man proposes to do at any given time has 
been securely built up, it is liable to break down upon the 
application of a severe test, and often at a critical moment, 

HABIT. 137 

when he needs it most. Never did West Point stand so high 
in public estimation as during the war, when " the superiority 
of men educated systematically, and in all military matters, 
was established beyond controversy. This was seen especially 
in unexpected movements and emergencies. The civilian 
might fight one battle, and fight it well ; but the next might 
take him by surprise, and end in a signal but unnecessary 
defeat." When the great crises come, the real power and 
stamina which long training and habit have wrought hold a 
man unflinchingly to his post. Under ordinary circumstances 
the captain of an ocean steamship may seem a very genial, 
easy-going man ; but let danger threaten his noble vessel, 
and the real character of the man begins to display itself. 
The habits of promptness and decision, of sleepless vigilance 
and energy, which long discipline has conferred are revealed. 
You will find him at his post, hour after hour, undismayed 
by the terrors of darkness or the fury of the storm. Fidelity 
and discipline have a marvellous power. The last thing 
heard as the waters closed over the ill-fated Arctic was the 
sound of Stewart Holland's gun. 

The cultivation of a habit of attention to little things is 
invaluable to a man. Wellington was remarkable for this. 
All the petty details of military service and camp life 
received his closest attention. To this scrutiny of minute 
matters rather than to genius his success is traced. He had 
the rare distinction, it is said, of never losing a battle. No 
fragment of information escaped his memory or attention, 
no matter how apparently unimportant. 

Some writer has aptly observed that one ought to know 
something about everything and everything about something. 
Harvey, speaking of Thomas H. Benton, says : " Mr. Ben ton 
had all sorts of knowledge. He seemed to have acquired 
more political facts than even John Quincy Adams. He 
had a wonderful memory, and read almost everything. 
During the discussions on the Oregon Bill, Mr. Benton made 

138 HABIT. 

a speech, as did many other members ; and near the close of 
the debate, Mr. Webster was about to speak, and wanted to 
get a book, of which he had an indistinct recollection, for some 
geographical fact to illustrate a point in his remarks. It was 
something he had seen a great many years before in a book 
which was now probably out of print. He only knew the 
name of its author, but he set to work to find it. He asked 
Peter Force, who had collected a great political library at 
Washington ; but Mr. Force could not find it. He then got 
the librarian of Congress to hunt for it ; but he had no 
success. Mr. Webster was about giving it up in despair, 
when it occurred to him to speak to Benton, He went to 
him and said, 'You know everything, colonel, and where 
everything is. Have you any recollection or knowledge of 
such a geography, such a book, or such an author 1 ?' The 
colonel stopped a moment to think, and then replied, ' I 
know what you want; I'll see if I can find it.' An hour 
afterwards, Mr. Webster, having left the Senate, returned 
to his seat, and there, lying on his desk, was an immense book, 
with a leaf turned down to the place that he wanted to find, 
although he had not said a word as to the particular part of 
the book he wished to consult. Without any suggestion of 
his, Mr. Benton had guessed at what he wanted, and turned 
down the leaf. 'I looked up from my desk to his,' said 
Webster, 'and there he was, bowing to me as if to say, 
"That's it." I do not suppose there was another man who 
could have found that book for me.' " 

It is related of George the Third that on one occasion when 
Mr. Justice Park was present, the king said of him, " It is 
wonderful to think that this little head contains the whole law 
of England." " Not so, sire," replied the judge ; " it but con- 
tains the knowledge where the law may be found." These are 
notable instances, truly. On the other hand, there are men 
whose knowledge is so confused as to remind one of the woman 
who had " a place for everything and everything in that place." 

HABIT. 139 

This ability to recall at will where to find what one wants 
strikes the key-note of all really serviceable memory. One 
may cultivate the habit of memorizing like a parrot, but this 
is of less use than is generally supposed. " What we most 
want ready and available is the power and the science, not 
the tools. A mathematician is such still, without his for- 
mulae and diagrams. The oldest judge remembers the rules 
of law, though he foi'gets the case in point ; and the ablest 
counsel are allowed refreshers." Some one has well said 
that it is the ignorant, not the wise man who tries to tell 
you all he knows. It is the poor, not the rich man who 
stops to count and jingle his shillings. "The scholar does 
not con every page of his library daily or during a lifetime. 
The millionaire does not daily convert all his property into 
shillings and pence and enumerate them ; but the scholar and 
the millionaire, in times of emergency, know what and where 
are their resources, and fear no bankruptcy or sheriff, which 
is no small satisfaction." 

The first great requisite in cultivating the habit of memory 
is attention. Indeed, it has been declared that the art of 
memory is the art of attention. " What thou dost not know 
thou canst not tell." In reading history, for instance, lay 
the volume aside now and then and see if you can give a clear 
and concise account of what you have read. Use the best 
and most expressive words you can command. Fox once 
said of Pitt that he had not only a word but the word, the 
very word to express his meaning. Let this be your aim. 
One great secret is a thorough determination to remember. 
"They can who believe they can" is true here as elsewhere. 

A habit of classification is of immense value. Let one 
learn to have "pigeon-holes" in his brain, if we may be 
allowed the expression. As facts come under his observa- 
tion, let him classify them by putting those which are related 
to each other by themselves, and others which are also re- 
lated by themselves. One easily remembers that which 

140 HABIT. 

interests him. He thus comes presently to have a vivid con- 
ception of a subject, whatever it be, and conception is the 
quality for which we call a man " clear-headed." The author 
recalls a most striking illustration of the value of this habit 
as exemplified in the person of a distinguished scholar. The 
modesty of the man was unmistakable ; and yet, as one 
listened to him, while there was no effort to shine, yet one 
caught such glimpses of the vast stores of information at his 
command that Goldsmith's lines seemed verified : 

" And still they gazed, and still the wonder grew 
That one small head could carry all he knew," 

Tennyson is said to have brought this habit to great per- 
fection. It is related of Sumner that at one period of his 
senatorial career he had the impression that his memory was 
not serving him as it should. He accordingly procured an 
immense historical chart, hung it in his room, and formed 
the habit of committing a. certain portion of it to memory 
every morning. This he compelled himself to do. It was a 
sort of mental gymnastics. 

Joseph Cook affords perhaps one of the most notable illus- 
trations of prodigious memory. A well-known general of 
our army, who knew Cook in his boyhood, and was his class- 
mate, related to the author an incident of the latter's early life 
which appears not a little remarkable. It seems the students 
were to prepare orations, and two or three weeks' time had 
been allowed them for this purpose. On the morning of the 
day for delivery Cook came to his classmate's room to inquire 
concerning them. He had not done a stroke of work on his. 
He found his friend had prepared a very elaborate pro- 
duction, having spent days in its preparation. Cook pro- 
posed that they proceed to the grove and rehearse it. This 
was done. He held the manuscript during the rehearsal, 
after which they returned. The afternoon came, and Cook 
being first called upon, proceeded to the stage, and as a 

HABIT. 141 

boyish trick gave the whole of his friend's oration, verbatim 
et literatim, from beginning to end. His only opportunity 
for committing it had been the brief interval mentioned. 
Such power seems indeed phenomenal 

Actors, we are told, have by the constant use of the mem- 
ory accomplished some remarkable feats. Some years ago 
John Ryder, in England, undertook to memorize a copy of 
a London newspaper and recite it in public ; and he did it, 
reciting the whole paper from beginning to end. The com- 
edy of "The Game of Speculation" was translated from the 
French, rehearsed, and produced at the Lyceum Theatre in 
London in four days. Charles Matthews, who played the 
leading part, Affable Hawk, and who is on the stage through- 
out four long acts with hardly any intermission, committed 
the character perfectly to memory in twenty-four hours, or, 
to use his own words after the first night, " I swallowed the 
whole dose, and don't think I spilled a drop." When the 
curtain rose on the first production of " Pizarro," the last 
act of the drama was not written; and Brinsley Sheridan 
wrote off the fifth act in the green-room, the call-boy taking 
it from him and then distributing it to the different actors 
as the first four acts were being played, to be studied by them 
as best they could. 

It is doubtless true that certain men of eminent abilities 
may dispense with rules. They are a law unto themselves, 
and instinctively follow rules without knowing it. But for 
the majority the diligent cultivation of desirable habits is 
indispensable ; and few things are more important to one 
than the habit of observation. It is astonishing how many 
of us go about with our eyes open and yet seeing nothing. 
One great secret of the vivid character of the descriptions 
of Macaulay is the zeal with which he visited and made in- 
quiries in the localities where many of the events took place 
which he has recorded. At "VVeston Zoyland, a village in 
Somersetshire about four miles from Bridgewater, celebrated 

142 HABIT. 

as being the scene of the Duke of Moiimouth's defeat at the 
battle of Sedgemoor, the historian was well known. He 
resided at an humble inn in the village for some weeks, 
occupying his time with minute investigations in the neigh- 
bourhood, and while the facts and impressions were fresh in 
his mind writing that portion of his narrative in a little room 
which is still shown to the rare visitors to the locality. 

We find the same method of work in writers of fiction. 
When Sir Walter Scott was driven one day by a friend to 
look at a ruined castle about which he wished to compose a 
story or reproduce a legend, his friend saw him take out 
his note-book and write the separate names of the grasses 
and wild flowers which grew amid the ruins ; and on his 
friend expressing his surprise, he said that it was only by 
such means a writer could be fresh ; otherwise, in all his 
stories he would be mentioning the same kinds of flowers. 
This "ignominious love of details" is doubtless the secret 
of much of an author's success, after all. Vernet, we are 
told, was a perfect master of water when young, because he 
studied the water itself constantly ; but when fame and age 
came upon him, and he grew careless and neglected this 
water study, he lost the faculty and worked by " a false and 
uniform pattern." Never forget that it is because you have 
acquired the habit of " looking out for other people's thoughts 
and illustrations that you have thoughts and illustrations of 
your own." Whitefield, it is said, was conversant with life 
from the humblest mechanic to the first characters in the 
land. He let nothing escape him, but turned all into gold 
that admitted of improvement. 

As an illustration of the perfection to which this habit of 
minute observation may be brought by training, we may 
cite the fact that some years ago there was at Washington 
a character familiar to the frequenters of the great balls and 
receptions, whose duty it was to receive the hats and outer 
garments of the guests as they arrived, and who had so 

HABIT. 143 

trained himself in this direction that without the use of 
checks or memoranda of any kind he, on their departure, 
with unerring accuracy would return to each of the hundreds 
of guests his or her own property in every instance, and a 
mistake was never known. 

One will find the habit of carrying note-books to have 
been a characteristic of most successful men. It was a con- 
firmed habit with Beethoven. Grove tells us that he went 
"nowhere without his sketch-books." In these books every 
strain that occurred to him was written down at the moment. 
He even kept a book by his bedside to record anything that 
suggested itself. Abroad or at home it was all the same ; 
only out of doors he made his notes in pencil, and traced 
them in ink on his return to the house. It seems as if he 
placed no reliance whatever on his memory. He began the 
practice as a boy, and maintained it to the last. In the 
sale catalogue of his effects more than fifty of such books are 
included. They are made of large, coarse music-paper, oblong, 
two hundred or even more pages, sixteen staves to the page, 
and are covered from beginning to end, often margin and all, 
with close-crowded writing. Locke, Parr, and Gibbon always 
read with commonplace-books beside them ; and the same 
method was adopted by Butler, the author of " Hudibras." 
Pope always carried a note-book with him, and never hesitated 
to jot down anything which struck him in conversation. 

It is quite common for men of affairs, lawyers, editors, 
statesmen, and men of letters, to have a system of this kind. 
The great painters had the same habit. Leonardo da Vinci 
always carried a sketch-book in his girdle. A certain writer 
says of him : " He was so much pleased when he encoun- 
tered faces of extraordinary character, or heads, or beards, 
or hair of unusual appearance, that he would follow any 
such more than ordinary attraction through the whole day. 
He always carried with him a little book, in which he noted 
down the features he met, eyes and mouths, noses and chins, 

144 HABIT. 

necks and shoulders, and at home would combine them to 
make up such heads as he wanted. Moreover, he often in- 
vited people from the lower orders to his house, amusing 
them and sketching their faces. For the sake of his studies 
he even accompanied criminals to the place of execution." 
Hogarth, it is said, would sketch on his finger-nail the face 
of any one who impressed him particularly in the street. 
This may account for the astonishing variety of the coun- 
tenances in his drawings. Gainsborough in his morning 
walks made collections of broken stones, herbs, and frag- 
ments of glass. These were his memoranda. Then in his 
studio he formed a landscape model upon the table, expand- 
ing these objects into rocks, trees, and water. 

No one, probably, ever brought this habit to greater per- 
fection than Garfield. He had, we are told, a large leather- 
bound blank-book, arranged with indexes and classification 
divisions for the name, author, page, and subjects of books, 
wherein he hoarded scraps from his fugitive readings. His 
plan for preserving his memoranda he had matured with 
much thought, and he credited it with having much to do 
with the success of his extemporaneous speeches, the like of 
which, as every one knows, for wealth of information have 
not been heard in either branch of Congress for many years. 
It was a common saying in the reporters' gallery that when 
Garfield chose to cram on a subject, there was no man in 
Washington who could stand before the deluge of facts with 
which he would overwhelm all opposition. In his large 
memorandum - books there were many hundreds of pages 
filled with scraps, annotations, picked sentences, incidents, 
and witticisms, from a collection of authors and newspapers, 
representing the best thought in the literature, modern and 
ancient, of almost the entire world. Besides these quota- 
tions there were numerous thoughts of his own upon the 
innumerable things he had read during the course of his, 
prolonged studies, and which he embalmed in black and 

HABIT. 145 

white " when the 'idea divine' was warm and living in his 
brain." All were arranged in the nicest order, and through 
the series of books one could follow the trail of the great 
debater's readings, it is said, from their beginning. Thus, 
for the year 1859 you would find the first annotations on 
financial subjects at first somewhat straggling, and mixed in 
with more or less of the classic poets ; then they become 
more frequent, until they outnumber all other topics. In 
addition to his scrap-book he had a large case of pigeon-holes, 
holding perhaps fifty boxes, labelled, " The Press," " French 
Spoliation," "Tariff," "Geneva Award," "General Politics," 
"State Politics," "Public Men," "Parliamentary Decisions," 
" Anecdotes," " Electoral Laws and Commission," etc. These 
were filled with the choicest references and bits of current 
literature on the various special topics, and were continually 
replenished from every product of the printing-press. The 
wonderful comprehensiveness of his readings, and the close- 
ness with which he followed such a great number of public 
questions, was remarkable. It was this that enabled him to 
prepare in an hour's time to speak with detailed intelligence 
upon any question that might be sprung in the House of 
Representatives.' It was this, too, which made him so for- 
midable an antagonist ; for by running over his memoranda 
on any subject which came up for debate he was almost sure 
to find just the thing he wanted some ugly fact, perhaps, 
which his opponents had forgotten, because none of them 
had taken the trouble to preserve it "in the cold exactness 
of black and white." Garfield's references covered a greater 
range of public questions, probably, than those of any other 
public man in America. Indeed, it has been justly observed 
that it is doubtful if there was a debater in any of the Euro- 
pean countries that could boast a broader literary culture 
than he possessed. 

George Alfred Townsend's versatility in writing of public 
men is due in great measure, doubtless, to a similar system. 

(79) 10 

146 HABIT. 

He is said to have a stock of scrap-books running back for 
twenty years, filled entirely with personal items ; and there 
is hardly a man that the newspapers have spoken of during 
that time that Townsend cannot find something interesting 
about in his compilation. 

The plan of George Bancroft, the historian, is probably 
more extended than that of any one else in this country. 
He works on a special subject, however, and has a score of 
stenographers and bookworms especially trained for the pur- 
pose, " as large as the editorial force of a respectable news- 

Emerson's habits in this direction are well known. He 
was accustomed to jot down his thoughts at all hours and 
places. The suggestions which came to him from his read- 
ings, conversations, and meditations were transferred to the 
note-book he carried with him. His mind being always 
alert, many a gem of thought was thus preserved. Who 
has not heard the story told of his wife suddenly waking at 
night, while as yet his habits were unknown to her, and 
anxiously inquiring, as she heard him moving about, if he 
were ill. " No ; only an idea," was the response, as he pro- 
ceeded to jot it down. 

Verdi's habit is to jot down the ideas, as they arise in his 
brain, in the pages of his note-book, on the backs of old 
letters, odd visiting-cards, or anything, in fact, that comes to 
hand ; then in the seclusion of his study the new work takes 
shape and consistence. Visitors, or society in any form, are 
said to be fatal to his work and paralyze his genius. 

While many of the great creators of our literature have 
seemed thus in many points to agree in their general habits 
of preparation, their methods of actual work, when they 
have fairly settled themselves down to the task of giving 
shape and form to the products of their imagination, and 
bestowing upon them " a local habitation and a name," have 
differed greatly. Some, for instance, have laid great stress 

HABIT. 147 

upon plots, while others have seemingly paid little or no 
attention to the plot itself, but have made the personages 
their strong point just as some lawyers emphasize the 
points of law, while others make herculean efforts to carry 
the jury, as Choate was wont to do. This latter course was 
a marked characteristic of Dickens. The development of 
a striking personage in the story seemed to wholly absorb 
him, so much so that it has been said that he lost his own 
identity for the time being in that of the creations of his 
brain. His characters seemed to possess him, and he would 
go wandering around at times as if in dreamland, while 
under the pressure of this intense consciousness of their 
reality literally haunted by them day and night. As for 
his plots, however, as has been aptly observed, they resemble 
a highroad that winds, now into a green lane, now up a 
steep hill, and now down to a broad valley, while one is left 
utterly puzzled to tell how he arrived there. He was accus- 
tomed to seize at once upon the first ideas that came to him, 
and to commit them to paper without elaboration. He was 
at infinite pains afterwards, however, to revise and correct 
both manuscript and proof. 

Alphonse Daudet's stories, it is said, were all begun with 
the climax and its participants, and from that point worked 
back to the opening of the tale. Then the story was re- 
written, the characters developed, and such incidents in- 
troduced as suggested themselves. They were written with 
a purpose, but it was never known to the author when a 
story was begun what characters would enact the incidents 
leading to the catastrophe. It was a working back from 
effect to cause. The'ophile Gautier believed in long prefaces. 
It was an epigram of his that his " greatest novel would be 
all preface." Charles Reade did not approve of them. He 
declared that many a clever story was ruined by a preface. 
His theory was that the tale ought to tell itself, without 
prologue or epilogue. A recent writer has given us a 

148 HABIT. 

delightful glimpse of Reade's own habits of work. He 
usually kept his stories on the stocks, he tells us, for a year 
or more. His method of nursing the youngling was peculiar. 
The chapters were roughly blocked out on separate sheets of 
paper. Then they were numbered and arranged in their 
order, or dropped between the leaves of a large scrap-book. 
Then the process of fecundation began : an incident was 
added to one chapter, a bit of description to another, and a 
scrap of dialogue found place on still another sheet. Then 
the shifting of scenes, incidents, dialogues, and whole chap- 
ters began. The matter in chapter Jive, for instance, found 
place in eleven ; eleven became seven ; seven was lodged ah five, 
and so on. The work was growing all the time. Details 
were evolving themselves from the mass of facts. A new 
character was suggested. His course was traced roughly 
through the chips of this literary carpenter shop. He was 
hinted at, for example, in three ; he appeared in six ; he 
became necessary to the story in nine, and so on to the 
climax. A few important chapters were roughly written 
out, or dictated, then pinned together and replaced in the 
book or stowed in a pigeon-hole. Again more changes and 
transpositions. Finally the sheets, and scraps pinned or 
gummed to them, were all taken out and gathered into a 
stack. Then the author rapidly shuffled them over and 
grasped the story as a whole for the first time. When the 
story had reached this stage it was as good as written. Mr. 
Reade then settled down to seven or eight hours' manual 
labour a day, and in three months the book was advertised. 

The prose fictions of Charles Kingsley (with one excep- 
tion, " Alton Locke ") were never copied. His usual habit 
was to dictate to his wife as he walked up and down his 
study. He was accustomed to master his subject thoroughly 
out in the open air, in his garden, on the moor, or by the 
side of some lonely trout-stream, and never to put pen to 
paper until the ideas were clothed in words ; and these, save 

HABIT. 149 

occasionally in some of his poems, he rarely altered. God- 
win, we are told, wrote " Caleb Williams " backward, begin- 
ning, on principle, with the last chapter and working up to 
the first, on a plan similar to that of Daudet, to which refer- 
ence has been made. Charles Lever had remarkably little of 
the professional author about him. His biographer tells us 
that no panegyric about his last book would have given him 
as much satisfaction as an acknowledgment of his superiority 
at whist. He hated especially the drudgery of copying and 

Cooke tells us that when Emerson desired to write an 
essay he would turn to his note-books and transcribe all his 
paragraphs on the proposed subject, drawing a perpendicular 
line through whatever he had thus copied. These separate 
jottings, written perhaps years apart and in widely different 
circumstances and moods, were brought together, arranged 
in such order as was possible, and then welded together by 
such matter as was suggested at the time. Alcott says he 
once went to his study and found him with many sheets of 
manuscript scattered about on the floor, which he was 
anxiously endeavouring to arrange in something like a 
systematic treatment of the subject then in hand. He has 
also given us quite an entertaining account of Emerson's 
manner of preparing his essays. After referring to his 
remarkable diligence in securing everything which interested 
him for his commonplace-book, he tells us concerning these 
gathered treasures that they all had an intrinsic value, but 
they needed a setting. He did not let any of these sentences 
drop. How then shall these pearls be arranged and strung 
together ? He employed no magic in this ; they were gems 
when he had set them. That was his art. He copied them 
on paper, and saw how they would come together. One 
jewel after another was examined until he found one which 
he thought would do in a certain place. " There is no 
ordinary coherence in his essays. Each paragraph is com- 

150 HABIT. 

plete in itself. Whatever he wrote was finished and good, 
but he considered every sentence well before it was put on 
paper. It was slept upon, dreamt on, and then written. 
You can't read one of his books at a sitting and get any good 
out of it. Each word, almost, must be pondered over." 

Writing of the author of " The Scarlet Letter," one who 
knew him well says : " Though Hawthorne was humility 
itself in his estimate of his own powers, yet when once he 
was under the influence of his Muse, not all the criticism of 
ancient and modern times could have made him swerve by 
so much as a hair's-breadth from the path along which she 
led him. When he was at work he was in a region by him- 
self, alone with his art, into which the voices of the 
exterior world could never penetrate, nor its presence in- 
trude. The work being done, however, and sent forth, the 
worker would return to a colder and more sceptical state, in 
which he took, as it were, the part of the world against him- 
self, and led the attack. So little is known of the man that 
it has always been the custom to paint his portrait from the 
same palette which he himself used for his pictures. But it 
is important to remember that the man and writer were, in 
Hawthorne's case, as different as a mountain from a cloud." 

It is curious to note how many poets have first clothed 
their thoughts in prose. A recent authority assures us that 
the original form of the ^Eneid was a prose narrative, which 
was afterwards gradually versified, the poet writing at first 
fluently, and then laboriously polishing his lines till he had 
brought them as near perfection as possible. Thus, too, 
Goldsmith worked at "The Traveller" and "The Deserted 
Village," and Johnson composed " Irene," Butler his " Hudi- 
bras," and Pope the " Essay on Man." 

When Balzac was engaged in writing his novels he used 
to send off the skeleton of the story to the printers, with 
huge blank spaces for the introduction of conversations, 
descriptions, and the like, and on receiving the printed 

HABIT. 151 

sketch would shut himself up in his room, drink nothing but 
water and eat nothing but fruit and bread, till he had com- 
pleted the work by filling up the spaces. Southey usually 
had three and sometimes four of his works passing through 
the press at the same time, and would give to each its allotted 
space during the twenty-four hours. "Wordsworth used to go 
to bed on returning from his morning walk, and while break- 
fasting there dictate the lines he had put together on the 
march. One, at least, of Rossini's operas was composed in 
bed. He was at that time young, poor, and unknown, and 
lived in wretched quarters. He never wrote his overtures 
till the very last minute, and then apparently only because 
necessity compelled him. 

Not every one can hope to bring himself under such 
perfect discipline and control as Anthony Trollope tells us 
he achieved, but doubtless many of us might approximate it. 
" It is my custom," he says, "to write with my watch before 
me, and to require from myself two hundred and fifty words 
every quarter of an hour. I have found that the two hun- 
dred and fifty words have been forthcoming as regularly as 
my watch went." While all may not be equal to this, few 
realize, who have not had the experience, how much may be 
accomplished by strict method and the systematic using of 
every fragment of time. Amid all the occupations of his 
busy life, Mr. Beecher declared at the banquet given to 
Froude, the historian, on the occasion of his visit to this 
country, that he accomplished the entire reading of the 
latter's " History of England " during the few spare minutes 
in which he had from time to time been kept waiting for his 
dinner. Longfellow's translation of the " Inferno " was the 
result of ten minutes' daily work at a standing desk in his 
library while his coffee was reaching the boiling point. 
" So soon as the kettle hissed," says Ward, " he folded his 
portfolio, not to resume that work until the following morn- 
ing. In this wise, by devoting ten minutes a day during 

152 HABIT. 

many years, the lovely work grew, like a coral reef, to its 

Instances are common in every-day life of men who can- 
not think to good purpose when shut up in a room with a 
pen, and who find their best inspiration in wandering about 
the streets and hearing what they want in the rattle of cabs 
and the seething of life around them, like the scholar of 
Padua whose conditions of work are given by Montaigne as 
a curiosity : "I lately found one of the most learned men in 

France studying in the corner of a room cut off by a 

screen, surrounded by a lot of riotous servants. He told 
me and Seneca says much the same of himself that he 
worked all the better for this uproar, as though, overpowered 
by noise, he was obliged to withdraw all the more closely 
into himself for contemplation, while the storm of voices 
drove his thoughts inward. When at Padua he had lodged 
so long over the clattering of the traffic and the tumult of 
the streets, that he had been trained not only to be indiffer- 
ent to noise, but even to require it for the prosecution of his 

Buffon declared himself utterly incapable of thinking to 
good purpose except in full court dress. This he always 
put on before entering his study, not even omitting his 
sword. On the other hand, there were few coats more 
threadbare, we are told, than those of Victor Hugo. Buffon 
did not deign, except in lace cuffs, to occupy himself with 
the humble animals whose history he was writing. It was 
his habit, also, to have his hair in such elaborate order that, 
by way of external stimulus to his brain, he had a hair- 
dresser to interrupt his work twice, or when very busy, 
thrice a day. Haydn used to declare that if when he sat 
down to his instrument he had forgotten to put on a certain 
ring, he could not summon a single idea. How he managed 
to summon ideas, as some one aptly remarks, before Frederick 
the Second gave him the said ring, we are not informed. 

HABIT. 153 

But even these trivial instances of caprice, it has been well 
observed, help to suggest that when the fancy is called upon, 
the ordinary conditions of straightforward work must be con- 
sidered at an end. Fancy dictates the terms on which she 
condescends to appeal*. Of Dickens we are told that " some 
quaint little bronze figures on his desk were as much needed 
for the easy flow of his writing as blue ink or quill pens." 

At the time when Niccolo Machiavelli composed the works 
which have immortalized his name, he was living in obscure 
retirement, where his only companions were rustics. He 
himself says, in a letter to his friend Francesco "Vettori, that 
he trifled away his days, but his nights he gave to intense 
study. " When evening closes in," he says, " I return home 
and shut myself up in my study ; but before entering there 
I cast off on the threshold my rustic dress, covered with mud 
and dirt, and put on clothes fit for courts and senates ; and 
thus attired, I enter the ancient courts of the ancient men, 
where, being by them affectionately received, I feed on that 
food which alone is mine, and for which I was born." While 
Haydn arrayed himself for his task in full court costume, his 
peruke sprinkled with powder, his wrists enclosed with 
delicate ruffles of fine lace, his fingers covered with rings of 
precious stones, Oliver Goldsmith loved best to write in 
dressing-gown and slippers. 

Some men need active influences as their form of mental 
stimulus. Alfieri could work best while listening to music 
or galloping on horseback. Washington Irving's favourite 
studio was a stile in some pleasant meadow, where with his 
portfolio on his knees he formed his graceful periods. 
When Hazlitt had a work in hand he invariably went into 
the country to execute it, and almost always to the same 
spot, a little wayside public-house called "The Hut," 
standing alone and some miles distant from any other house, 
on Winterslow Heath. It is the habit of Dumas the 
younger, when he has a new work in hand, to flee from 

154 HABIT. 

Paris to the chateau of Salneure, that he may write in 
quiet. "It may seem surprising to some that an author so 
Parisian, so bold, so fond of raillery, and so observing, should 
flee from his models and seek to write amid the silence and 
the poetry of the country such positive, aggressive, and 
lively works as bear his name." 

This influence of one's surroundings is a very potent one. 
An intensely interesting chapter would be one giving an 
account of the novel circumstances under which certain of 
the most famous works were produced. Some of them we 
know. Shelley composed the " Revolt of Islam " while 
lying in a boat on the Thames at Marlow ; Keats, his " Ode 
to the Nightingale " in a lane at Hampstead. Burns com- 
posed his magnificent lyric, " Scots wha hae wi' Wallace bled," 
while galloping on horseback over a wild moor in Scotland, 
and " Tarn o' Shanter " in the woods overhanging the Doon. 
The greater part of Arnold's " Roman History " was written 
in his drawing-room with his children playing about him, 
and lively conversation, in which he frequently joined, going 
on around the table on which his manuscript rested. 
Priestley and Beddoes are said to have been fond of writing 
under similar circumstances. " What would to nine men 
out of ten be an intolerable distraction was to them a gentle 
and welcome stimulus." Johnson's " Vanity of Human 
Wishes" was composed as he trudged backwards and forwards 
from Hampstead. Some of Fielding's comedies were scrawled 
in taverns. Byron tells us that he composed the greater 
part of " Lara " at the toilet table, and the prologue on the 
opening of Drury Lane Theatre in a stage-coach. " Among 
all the distractions of the events they describe, Csesar 
committed to paper the immortal ' Commentaries.' Moore's 
splendid Eastern romance ' Lalla Rookh ' was written in a 
cottage blocked up by snow, with an English winter howling 
round." Longfellow's "Wreck of the Hesperus" came into 
his mind as he was sitting by his fireside the night after a 

HABIT. 155 

violent storm. " He went to bed, but could not sleep. The 
' Hesperus ' would not be denied ; and as he lay, the verses 
flowed on without let or hindrance until the poem was 
completed." Victor Hugo in his long walks would prepare 
the work of the morrow, and as his memory was prodigious 
he had only to write out what that dictated. He often 
related to his friends that in his youth, during a rainy 
winter, he was occupied with his "Marion Delorme." He 
had chosen, as a place of exercise under shelter, the Passage 
du Saumon. The first act, a marvellous commencement full 
of passion, poetry, and fire, was the work of two afternoons 
spent in promenading in this passage of dingy shops where 
were sold, side by side, stockings, straw mattings, and 
butchers' caps. 

Authors do not often invite us behind the scenes. " Ge- 
nius, like the Nile, keeps its springs secret." Yet we are 
favoured with occasional glimpses, nevertheless. As one 
perceives the utter and deliberate ignoring of all hygienic 
laws (at least as they are commonly received) on the part of 
many of these, the turning of night into day and day into 
night, the reckless use of stimulants of all kinds, with other 
similar indiscretions, one ceases to wonder that the sig- 
nificant designation, genus irritabile, should be given the 
unique race. A simple narrative of the way in which much 
imaginative work has been done would, as has well been said, 
read like an attempt to keep up the action of brain-fever 
by artificial stimulus. " Balzac preached to us," says Theo- 
phile Gautier, "the strangest hygiene ever propounded 
among laymen. If we desired to hand our names down to 
posterity as authors, it was indispensable that we should 
immure ourselves absolutely for two or three years ; that we 
should drink nothing but water and only eat soaked beans, 
like Protogenes; that we should go to bed at sunset and 
rise at midnight, to work hard till morning ; that we should 
spend the whole day in revising, amending, extending, prun- 

156 HABIT. 

ing, and polishing our night's work, in correcting proofs, or 
taking notes, or in other necessary study." 

Byron affords an illustration of the tendency which one 
often finds to put one's-self " out of working condition " in 
order to work the better. "At Distati," says Moore, "his 
life was passed in the same regular round of habits into 
which he naturally fell." These habits included, as we are 
told, very late hours and semi-starvation, assisted by cigars 
and tobacco, and in the evening by green tea without milk 
or sugar. Schiller was a night- worker and a coffee-drinker. 
Not only so, but he used an artificial stimulus altogether 
peculiar to himself. He found it impossible, according to 
the well-known anecdote, to work except in a room filled 
with the scent of rotten apples, which he kept in a drawer 
of his writing-table, in order to keep up his necessary mental 
atmosphere. This at first glance seems really odd ; and yet 
who of us has not at times realized the potency of certain 
odours in recalling most vividly associations of the past? 
The fragrance of new pine lumber or cedar shingles, for 
instance, or the burning of autumn leaves in the crisp morn- 
ing air, recalls most vividly some of the brightest associa- 
tions of youth. Doubtless by this same law of association 
this seemingly trivial influence brought back to the brilliant 
poet the memory of certain rare hours, and perpetually re- 
newed for him the familiar atmosphere, flooding the mental 
horizon with its nameless charm. 

Shelley's habit of continually munching bread while com- 
posing is not mere trivial gossip, we are assured; and to 
mention in passing a modern instance in this direction, it 
is said that Jay Gould, the Wall Street magnate, has been 
known to have two sticks of peppermint candy placed regu- 
larly each morning on his office desk. 

"That night, and not morning, is appropriate to imagi- 
native work," declares a competent authority, " is supported 
by a general consent among those who have followed instinct 

HABIT. 157 

in this matter. Upon this question, which can hardly be 
called vexed, Charles Lamb is the classical authority." Some 
one has asserted that he would hold a good wager that 
Milton's " Morning Hymn in Paradise " was penned at mid- 
night. There have been two great imaginative writers, 
however, of the very first rank who believed that " the high- 
est and freest work can be done under the healthiest con- 
ditions of fresh air, early hours, daylight, and temperance 
not abstinence." One of these was Goethe, the other was 
Scott. Goethe and Balzac were the very antipodes of each 
other in their way of working. Mr. Lewes gives the account 
of Goethe's day at Weimar, as follows : " He arose at seven 
o'clock. Till eleven he worked without interruption. A cup 
of chocolate was then brought, and he worked on again till 
one o'clock. At two he dined. His appetite was immense. 
Even on the days when he complained of not being hungry, 

he ate much more than most men He never dined alone. 

There was no dessert or coffee. Then he went to the theatre, 
or else received friends at home. By ten o'clock he was in 

bed, where he slept soundly Like Thorwaldsen he had 

a talent for sleeping No man of business or dictionary 

maker," adds Mr. Lewes, "could make a more healthful ar- 
rangement of his hours." 

Dumas the younger is a morning worker. His habitual 
good-humour proves that his health is fine. " He is hungry 
immediately on rising, and attacks a good plate of soup with 
the eagerness of a rustic. After that he seats himself before 
a large secretaire and writes until noon in negligent dress." 
Hugo was an early riser, but he did not live on soup. 
" Before noon he lived only on his thoughts. He wrote 
much, and his heart was in his work." Lamartine was 
another early riser. 

George Sand always wrote at night. " Lady of the manor 
during the day, devoted to her guests, making preserves, and 
engaged in needlework, it was at one o'clock in the morning, 

158 HABIT. 

when the chateau was fast asleep, that this genius awoke and 
gave us ' Mauprat,' ' Frangois de Champi,' ' Consuelo,' and a 
hundred other works." 

If Balzac's may be taken as a type of the artist's life, 
Kant's may be taken as the type of the student's. While 
usually very methodical, there was one point in Kant's char- 
acter which illustrates the need of the mind for artificial 
conditions, however slight they may be, when engaged in 
"dreaming." During the "blindman's holiday," between 
his walk and candle-light, he sat down to think in twilight 
fashion, and while thus engaged he always placed himself, it 
is said, so that his eyes might fall on a certain old tower. 
This old tower became so necessary to his thoughts, that 
when some poplar trees grew up and hid it from his window 
he found himself unable to think at all, until, at his earnest 
request, the trees were cropped and the tower brought into 
sight again. The elder Dumas, we are told, had to forbid 
himself, by an effort of will, to leave his desk before a certain 
number of pages were written, in order to get any work done 
at all ; and Victor Hugo is said to have locked up his clothes 
while writing " Notre Dame," so that he might not escape 
from it till the last word was written. In such instances as 
these it has well been observed that the so-called "pleasures 
of the imagination " look singularly like the pains of stone- 

These glimpses vouchsafed us from time to time reveal 
unmistakably the fact that the strange race to whom the 
world owes so much have been " compassed " to a surprising 
degree with whims and oddities, and ruled by habits and 
idiosyncrasies not a few. 

It would be exceedingly interesting to know how long it 
takes for " use " to " breed a habit in a man." In this respect 
men differ greatly. Habits seem to attach themselves to 
certain men as readily as burrs or cockles fix themselves to 
one's clothing in passing through a neglected field, and to be 

HABIT. 159 

shed almost as readily ; almost every day displays some new 
trick or mannerism. Others cling with the tenacity of bar- 
nacles to the hull of an ancient ship. Habits seemingly most 
trivial, yet excessively annoying, have at times gained the 
ascendency over men of unquestioned power. What more 
amusing, for instance, than Dr. Johnson's habit of touching 
the posts, and of always placing his right foot first over the 
threshold ] 

While one recognizes the presence of this strange, occult 
power within him, this mysterious tendency in one's nature 
to repetition, holding within its viewless grasp such untold 
possibilities for evil as well as good ; while it is also true that 
the finest natures have yielded to its baleful influence, as De 
Quincey's opium and poor Lamb's " wet damnation " testify ; 
while on every hand are the bleaching bones of the victims 
of this demon who first clutches the soul and then destroys 
it, this mutinous sailor that scuttles the very ship on which 
he has taken passage, it is yet a reassuring reflection that 
this same power may be harnessed to work for a man as well 
as against him. Let no one, then, fear to undertake the 
acquisition of any habit which seems desirable ; for it can be 
formed, and with more ease than one may at first suppose. 
The habit of saving and improving every fragment of time, 
for instance, is invaluable. In the gold-room of the Phila- 
delphia Mint there is a perforated floor through which pass 
the dust and filings of the gold, the aggregate value of which 
is thirty thousand dollars every year. 

The inflexible rule of regularity soon becomes an all-impor- 
tant factor. Charles Dickens sat at his desk for three hours 
every morning, no matter whether he wrote a word or not 
Habits become at length part and parcel of the man himself, 
inwrought in the very fibre of his being, betraying themselves 
at times in the very latest utterances of the lips. Lord 
Tenterden expiring with the words, " Gentlemen of the jury, 
you will now consider your verdict," Napoleon's "Tete 

160 HABIT. 

d'armee!" and Chesterfield's "Give Dayrolles a chair," are 
striking examples of this. 

Habit thus becomes destiny. " God gives us the power to 
form habits, that we may crystallize victories. All improve- 
ment in the eye of the painter, in the tongue of the orator, 
in the hand of the artisan, is the gift of habit. It is a 
channel worn in the substance of the soul, along which our 
purpose and our ability run with increased facility." The 
formation of a habit reduces to this simple direction : Apply 
yourself to any course marked out for yourself industriously, 
punctually, and persistently, and you prevail. Having this 
marvellous power at command, use it / 



For life is not to live, but to be well. MARTIAL. 

" A brilliant intellect in a sickly body is like gold in a spent swimmer's 

O blessed health ! thou art above all gold and treasure ; 'tis thou who 
enlargest the soul, and openest all its powers to receive instruction and 
to relish virtue. He that has thee has little more to wish for ; and he 
that is so wretched as to want thee, wants everything with thee. STERNE. 

THE author wishes he could be sure of making this chapter 
so interesting that its perusal might not only confer pleasure 
but profit as well. He is fully aware that no subject could 
well seem more hackneyed. At the same time, he is also 
persuaded that no subject touched upon in the whole volume 
has so important a bearing upon the success of any man. 
One may possibly escape the commonplace even in the treat- 
ment of so trite a theme. Nor let it be supposed that the 
writer is an advocate of " sawdust puddings," or that he looks 
with any degree of allowance upon "cant," which he abhors. 
He gives assurance, moreover, that the chapter shall not be, 
if he can help it, a morbid one, at least. Happily, as regards 
himself he can say that 

"Good digestion waits on appetite, 
And health on both." 

Yet observation and experience have both proved to him 
what an enemy to all a man's best interests ill-health is. He 
(re) 11 

162 HEALTH. 

has seen men in the great army of letters, and others in the 
full tide of business prosperity, compelled to drop out of the 
ranks at the very moment, perhaps, when success was just at 
hand. He has known men of most brilliant parts and rarest 
attainments hampered and trammelled for years for the same 
reason, and cut off at length in middle life with their great 
projects all unfulfilled. 

Well does the author remember a certain evening when 
one of the most brilliant and accomplished of scholars called 
around him in his library a group of students, and in an im- 
pressive manner urged upon them the vast importance of 
caring for their health. Nor was the influence of his words 
lessened by the knowledge that the advice came from the 
depths of a bitter experience on the part of the one who gave 
it ; and the counsel was still more strongly emphasized when 
in a few brief months that brilliant life went out just as the 
fruits of years of scholarly research were about to be given 
to the world. 

Now, if health be not invaluable, and of paramount im- 
portance to a man, what means that first inquiry of all 
nations when one man meets another? The very first salu- 
tation of all, in slightly varying phrase, concerns a man's 
health. Its loss is the subject of most anxious concern and 
solicitude among friends; and yet we go on abusing it, 
apparently without a thought of its inestimable value, 
violating its laws until compelled by stern necessity to use 
wisdom when perchance too late. 

Blackie has called attention to the fact that great men 
have often overworked themselves by foolishly attempting to 
do that which might just as well have been left to subor- 
dinates. Every one can see how foolish it would be in a 
great military leader, on whom the lives of thousands and 
possibly the fate of a whole campaign depends, to unneces- 
sarily expose and hazard his life in some insignificant en- 
counter. That remonstrance of the people when David had 

HEALTH. 163 

mustered his army for battle, and declared that he would 
surely go forth with them himself, was not without mean- 
ing. " Thou shalt not go forth," said they : " for if we flee 
away they will not care for us; neither if half of us die, 
will they care for us ; but now thou art worth ten thousand 
of us." And they were right. The health of every one is 
of vast moment to himself, but there are many reasons why 
the health of a professional man seems to be and really is 
more valuable than that of some others. Louis XIV., saun- 
tering in the garden of Versailles with his courtiers, saw 
Mansard, the architect, walking through one of the alleys. 
He soon joined the old man, and Mansard took off his hat, 
as was strict etiquette in the presence of his sovereign ; but 
the king lifted up his hand in friendly reprehension, and said, 
" Pray keep it on. The evening is damp, and you may take 
cold." The courtiers, who were all standing bareheaded 
around the king, stared at each other at this extraordinary 
show of courtesy. But Louis, observing their surprise, said, 
" Gentlemen, you are amazed ; but learn this : I can make a 
duke or a marquis with my own breath, but God only can 
make a Mansard." 

Herbert Spencer, in his after-dinner speech at the great 
banquet given him in New York City just before his depart- 
ure for home, said : " Along with your kindness there comes 
to me a great unkindness from Fate ; for now that, above all 
times in my life, I need full command of what powers of 
.speech I possess, disturbed health so threatens to interfere 
with them that I fear I shall very inadequately express 
myself. Any failure in my response you must please ascribe, 
in part at least, to a greatly disordered nervous system." 

Dickens also, when he gave his famous " Readings," dur- 
ing his second visit to America, was sadly out of health. 
He was thus obliged to deny himself many a pleasure, and to 
decline the most flattering invitations of a social nature. In a 
letter written to his friend, Mr. Philp of Washington, he said : 

164 HEALTH. 

11 1 was on the point of writing to express to you my regret 
that I must forego the pleasure of dining with you while at 
Washington." Then referring to his indisposition, he added: 
"It is so oppressive, and would, but for occasional rest and 
silence, be so incompatible with my readings, that my only 
safe course is to hold to the principle I established when I 
left Boston, and gloomily deny myself all social recreations. 
I am bound to disclaim the least merit in this virtuous-look- 
ing self-denial. I retire to the cloister as discontentedly and 
growlingly as possible." 

And poor Carlyle, that Prometheus with a vulture for 
ever at his heart, who has not felt a throb of sympathy at 
the spectacle of this strong spirit struggling through the long 
years against such odds 1 May not much of the bitterness 
and apparent ill-humour of this man be easily accounted for 
by the fact that his whole nature was warped and distorted 
by the pangs of his perpetual and incurable malady ; and 
should not corresponding allowance be made 1 In his talk 
to the students at Edinburgh he said, with an earnestness 
wrung from the depths of his own bitter experience : "Fin- 
ally, I have one advice to give you which is practically of 
very great importance. You are to consider throughout, 
much more than is done at present, and what would have 
been a very great thing for me if I had been able to consider, 
that health is a thing to be attended to continually ; that 
you are to regard that as the very highest of all temporal 
things for you. There is no kind of achievement you could 
make in the world that is equal to perfect health. What to 
it are nuggets or millions?" As has been truly said, Carlyle 
here but voices the common feeling of overwhelming, irrep- 
arable mistake that vast numbers are called to undergo. 
'' No pangs of physical suffering would have wrung from this 
man such words as these, but the fact that he had been 
crippled in his work, that the clearness of his vision had 
been dimmed, and that a hue not natural to himself a hue 

HEALTH. 165 

partial, distempered, morose was spread over all that he 
had clone. It is late before we learn that the whole of man 
goes into his work. Poet, orator, philosopher, or man of 
business, his body follows him and holds the pen, and shapes 
the thought, and imparts its quality to all that he does or 

How true it is, as the Italians have it, " He that has good 
health is rich, though he knows it not." But where you 
find one man thoroughly well, you will find a hundred who 
are not. And the sad thing about it is that we are so 
reluctant to learn from the experience of others. It seems 
as if each must needs learn the bitter lesson for himself 
before he can be made to feel and believe its truth. And 
thus advice like that of Carlyle and others, so invaluable if 
youth would only heed it, is apt to go for little, if it be not 
wholly disregarded. 

One thing, however, is certain : the man who aspires to be 
a master of the situation must have a care for his reserves. 
What a vast difference there is in men in this regard ! Some 
men seem utterly reckless as to these, while others are all 
the while carefully storing them away. In ordinary times 
the reckless man may appear to be doing as well as, or even 
better than, the other. But any man can be a pilot in a 
calm. We may feel that all is well when the tide makes with 
us and the wind is fair ; but such times are of little value as 
a test of a man's real reserve power. One might look into 
the genial face of the captain of that Cunarder on which he 
has taken passage as, when the weather is fine and everything 
running smoothly, he stands pleasantly chatting with his 
friends, and fancy it no great thing to run an ocean steamer, 
after all. " But presently a great storm strikes the ship, and 
all night long, shuddering and panting through the wild 
waters, every beam and timber of the goodly vessel seems 
strained to the utmost by the fierce onslaught of wind and 
wave. Peering deckward by the dim light of the approach- 

166 HEALTH. 

ing dawn, he discerns the faithful fellow at his post upon the 
bridge, where he has been all night watching the gale with 
steady eyes and proud to see how splendidly his gallant ship 
behaves, bringing her about in the teeth of the tempest and 
the trough of the sea, that she may thus escape the terrible 
strain and avalanche of waters that might well dismay the 
stoutest heart. Now he begins to know the man." All un- 
daunted, alert and cheerful, at length he brings the goodly 
vessel into her desired haven. And so when a man is 
smitten with a sore disease, if he have reserves of power and 
strength laid up, he will doubtless in the end pull through. 
If it be otherwise, however, the chances are all against him. 
Collyer declares that reserves mean to a man also achieve- 
ment, " the power to do the grandest thing possible to your 
nature when you feel you must, or some precious thing will 

be lost ; to do well always, but best in the crisis on which 

all things turn ; to stand the strain of a long fight, and still 
find you have something left, and so never to know you are 
beaten, because you never are beaten." 

The success even of professional men depends in no slight 
degree on their organic stamina and cultivated physical 
strength. " A well-developed thorax is considered," says 
Smiles, " almost as indispensable to the successful lawyer 
or politician as a well-cultured intellect. The thorough aera- 
tion of the blood by free exposure to a large breathing sur- 
face in the lungs is necessary to maintain that full vital 
power on which the vigorous working of the brain in so 
large a measure depends. The lawyer has to climb the 
heights of his profession through close and heated courts, 
and the political leader has to bear the fatigue and excite- 
ment of long and anxious debates in a crowded House ; 
hence the lawyer in full practice, and the parliamentary 
leader in full work, are called upon to display powers of 
physical endurance and activity even more extraordinary 
than those of the intellect such powers as have been ex- 

HEALTH. 167 

hibited in so remarkable a degree by Brougham, Lyndhurst, 
and Campbell, by Peel, Graham, and Palmerston," and by 
our own Webster in the Senate all full-chested men. The 
greatness of our great men is quite as much a bodily affair 
as a mental one. A Napoleon or a Wellington, who is to 
come off victorious at Austerlitz or Waterloo, must have 
immense resources in reserve ; must be able to endure vast 
drafts upon his strength, to be harassed and perplexed in a 
thousand ways ; must submit to great fatigue, be broken of 
rest at night and surprised by unexpected calamity by day, 
and yet be able to surmount and rise victorious over it all. 

Let not, however, this fine power of endurance be con- 
founded with mere physical strength. While great energy 
implies, indeed, a good body, it does not require great physi- 
cal strength. Fine health and great nervous energy, or 
power to endure, may often exist without the latter endow- 
ment. Again and again it happened in our great Civil War 
that delicate-looking town-bred men would tire down the 
great strapping fellows from the farm, the young giants of 
the backwoods and prairies, outfight them and outlive them ; 
and the fine reserves of the Harvard men, it has been ob- 
served, covered them with glory, while the shallow and 
brute force of "Billy" Wilson's regiment ended in disgrace. 
William M. Evarts is slender to frailness ; but, as some one 
has said of him, he has a nervous system that enables him 
to endure a harder and longer mental strain than any other 
lawyer of the New York bar. It is curious to note how cer- 
tain men have been found possessed of these exceptional 
powers of endurance, who to all appearance were deficient 
in this very thing ; showing that the appearance of ill-health, 
while generally to be relied on, is not infallible. Many a 
man who to all appearance has inherited the most fragile 
of constitutions has been found possessed of such a wiry 
power of endurance as would indicate rather a constitution 
of iron or of brass. For years before he died, the venerable 

168 HEALTH. 

Bishop Smith had the appearance of being in the last stage 
of decline, and yet he lived to be nearly ninety. Then, too, 
there was Chief -Justice Taney, who lived to the age of 
eighty-seven, and seemed all his life to be hanging on the 
verge of the grave. For a long time before Andrew Jack- 
son appointed him Secretary of the Treasury, and got him 
to remove the deposits from the United States Bank, he was 
one of the leading lawyers of Maryland. Luther Martin 
and William Pinkney were for a time his chief competitors ; 
but they died, leaving him at the head of the bar. At this 
time, we are told, a man who had a Chancery suit which 
had been a long time in the courts, and bade fair to become 
a second Jarndyce v. Jarndyce, was looking for a new law- 
yer to take up his case. He had employed both Martin and 
Pinkney, and one after the other they had died on his hands, 
leaving his case still unsettled. He was recommended to 
engage Taney, and with this in view he called upon him. 
He entered the office, took a look at the emaciated form and 
graveyard air of the great lawyer, and then, with an expres- 
sion of disgust, he turned on his heel and went out. " Give 
that man my case !" he said to the first friend he met; "I 
would as soon give it to a corpse. He will die inside of two 
months." But Taney did not die, and he doubtless survived 
the above prophet by a full generation. One of the most 
famous of these men who lived to a great age, in a character- 
istic letter to a friend of the present writer, once, with that 
gentle facetiousness one sometimes finds in the most serious 
and reverent souls, compared himself to Charles the Second, 
who apologized to the noblemen about his bed for being such 
an unconscionable while a-dying. 

It goes without saying that " half a loaf is better than no 
bread ; " and if one must needs be a prisoner, let him garnish 
the walls of his prison-house as best he may, and thank for- 
tune that a kindly jailer spares him the lash and the thumb- 
screw of torture. But what a contrast, and how far inferior, 

HEALTH. 169 

is such merely negative, passive enjoyment, to the robust, 
positive joy of bounding health ! Surely no sensible man will 
affirm that a physical condition which compels the most 
studied caution and watchful anxiety is to be compared with 
that bounding exuberance of health and spirits which over- 
flows its banks and inundates all around it with its own 
immeasurable fulness of light and joy. Who would long 
hesitate in the choice between the apprehensive timidity of 
invalidism, which must perpetually trim and reef, and for 
ever scan both wind and tide lest it be caught and whelmed, 
and that thoughtless abandon of boundless health which 
sends its possessor, like Christopher North, bareheaded and 
free over his native hills, shouting for very joy from sheer 
exuberance of being ? 

One thing is certain. Aside from all considerations of 
mere enjoyment or comfort, if a man leave this factor out of 
his calculation in an age of such fierce rivalries and competi- 
tions as the present, he will discover that most of the great 
prizes and rewards for which men strive, and the tempting 
fruits of that legitimate toil and endeavour which excite 
men's noblest ambitions, are to him for ever denied. And 
let him not wonder, for the reason is obvious. The abso- 
lute prerequisite to perseverance, and consequently to any 
great success, is health. Of what use, then, were the mind, 
if its indispensable agent, the body, refuse or fail to carry 
out its plans ? Take simply the hand, for instance. A little 
member surely, but so curiously wrought, so wonderful in 
its mechanism, as to call forth the world-famous essay of Sir 
Charles Bell. How manifold and necessary its functions ! 
How marvellous its triumphs ! " It wrought the statue of 
Memnon, and hung the brazen gates of Thebes. It fixed the 
mariner's trembling needle upon its axis, and first heaved 
back the tremendous bar of the printing-press. It opened 
the tubes for Galileo, until world after world swept largely 
before his vision ; and it reefed the high-top-sail that rustled 

170 HEALTH. 

over Columbus in the morning breezes of the Bahamas. It 
has held the sword with which Freedom has fought her 
battles, and poised the axe of the dauntless woodman as he 
opened the paths of civilization, and turned the mystic leaves 
upon which Milton and Shakespeare inscribed their burning 
thoughts." What if that hand, nerveless and useless, refuse 
to obey the will of its owner ? 

Health in its fulness makes a man a king. Want has no 
terrors for such a man, and danger no dread. He courts it 
rather with exultant joy. Superb health breeds enterprise, 
for ever and always. Health, buoyant, confident, strides 
fearlessly abroad. It levels forests, it tunnels mountains, 
spans seemingly impossible chasms, and with untiring energy 
pushes its researches in all directions and ransacks the globe. 
Adding triumph to triumph, it lifts itself up in its proud 
consciousness of power, and cries out, " What is there that 
I cannot do?" Disease, on the other hand, despondent and 
faint-hearted, confined at home, sits cowering over the embers, 
filled with imaginary fears. 

Courage, moreover, is the presage of success. To believe 
in one's self and one's own power is always half the battle. 
" Possunt quia posse videntur" is for ever true. Emerson 
declares that success itself is constitutional, and that it de- 
pends on a plus condition of mind and body, on power of 
work, on courage ; and he cites the instance of Napoleon at 
Eylau, where, it seems, some thirty thousand of the men 
composing his army were thieves and burglars. " The men 
whom in peaceful communities we hold, if we can, with iron 
at their legs, in prisons, under the muskets of sentinels, this 
man dealt with hand to hand, dragged them to their duty, 
and won his victories by their bayonets." Again and again 
we find this shrewd thinker insisting upon the importance of 
this great factor. 

Sir Andrew Clark once defined health as that state in 
which existence just of itself is a joy; and few of us will be 

HEALTH. 171 

inclined to disagree with him. Every one must have noticed 
what a vast difference there is in men in sheer recuperative 
force. One man falls from a scaffold at the height of three 
stories; his injuries at first sight seem fatal, but he is out 
again in a week. Another suffers a slight injury, and is 
held a prisoner for months, if he does not succumb alto- 

Let it not be supposed, however, that mere physical force 
is of supreme value where there is nothing else. Like every 
good thing, physical culture may of course be overdone, and 
doubtless its importance is sometimes overestimated. It is 
not to be expected that one should so far forget himself as 
to allow the development of his muscle to crowd out every 
other worthy object from his life. It should never be the 
whole nor the chief object of one's life to make either an 
athlete merely or a savage of himself. When affairs reach 
such a pass as to lead a young Japanese student, in writing 
his impressions of America to friends at home, to describe 
our American colleges as "great boat-houses," as once hap- 
pened, it might not inappropriately be asked whether, in 
certain quarters at least, the muscular phase of college life 
were not approaching a questionable ascendency. Every one 
knows that things most commendable are liable to abuse ; 
and yet 

" I see no cause but men may pick their teeth, 
Though Brutus with a sword did kill himself." 

After all is said, there is no denying the fact that prac- 
tical success depends much more upon physical health than 
is generally imagined. " Suppose it were perfectly certain," 
says Huxley, " that the life and fortune of every one of 
us would one day or another depend upon his winning or 
losing a game of chess, don't you think that we should all 
consider it to be a primary duty to learn at least the names 
and moves of the pieces? Yet it is a very plain and ele- 

172 HEALTH. 

mentary truth that the life, the fortune, the happiness of 
every one of us, and more or less of those connected with 
us, do depend on our knowing something of the rules of a 
game infinitely more difficult and complicated than chess. 

It is a game which has been played for untold ages The 

chess-board is the world, the pieces are the phenomena of 
the universe, the rules of the game are what we call the 
laws of nature. The player on the other side is hidden from 
us. We know that his play is always fair, just, and patient ; 
but we know to our cost that he never overlooks a mistake, 
or makes the smallest allowance for ignorance. To the man 
who plays well the highest stakes are paid with that over- 
flowing generosity with which the strong shows delight in 
strength ; and one who plays ill is checkmated without haste, 
but without remorse." Let every young man remember 
that while health once lost may be regained, it is also true 
that it may not, even though one "seek it carefully with 

The typical American allows himself too few holidays. 
Living as he does under such continual pressure, with pulse 
at fever heat six days at least out of seven, he should oftener 
relax should damp the furnace-fires for a while, and cool 
off the boiler. What machinery could be expected to stand 
such overheating and overworking without soon wearing 
out? How seldom does he allow his recreation to quietly 
filter through him, if one may so express it, and thus thor- 
oughly to rest and recuperate him ! How rarely does he say 
to himself, " I enjoy this ; I am happy now ! " No ! eagerly 
reaching after some future good, he almost perpetually ignores 
that which the present has thrown into his lap. "Is not the 
life more than meat, and the body than raiment 1 " When 
was more significant question ever put than that? More- 
over, a man who by overwork cuts himself off in early life, 
or in the midst of his career, not only loses sight of his own 
best interests, but robs society of that which might prove 

HEALTH. 173 

invaluable. All those mellowing influences of maturer years 
which ripen and bring to rich perfection the splendid fruits 
of toil and culture are thus lost. And who can compute the 
loss ? Some of the rarest achievements have been wrought 
and many of our richest treasures conferred by men who 
were past the meridian of life. A certain indefinable flavour 
is often wanting in fruit ripened by the forcing process. 
The kisses of the sun, the tender influences of dews and 
showers, and all the genial persuasions of earth and sky, 
cannot with impunity be dispensed with. In this country 
nearly every active business or professional man is over- 
worked. Now, a great steamer in mid-ocean, crippled and 
disabled, with broken shaft, is not a pleasant sight to any 
one. To be obliged to creep slowly homeward, and to feel 
one's way into port, to say nothing of the increased perils of 
such a state of things, is in striking contrast with the power 
to stride resistlessly onward, setting wind and wave at defi- 
ance, and looking down upon the manifold perils of a stormy 
Atlantic in triumphant scorn. And yet how often is this 
very spectacle presented in the careers of professional and 
business men ! " We hear a great deal about the ' vile 
body,' " says Spencer; "and many are encouraged by the 
phrase to transgress the laws of health. But Nature quietly 
suppresses those who treat thus disrespectfully one of her 
highest products, and leaves the world to be peopled by the 
descendants of those who are not so foolish." Was there 
ever a more apt putting of the case than that ? 

It is certain that the deadliest foe to a man's longevity is 
an unnatural and unreasonable excitement. Dickens brought 
on his death by overwork and over-excitement. Mr. Dolby 
tells us that the reading of the murder scene in "Oliver 
Twist " by Dickens brought up the reader's pulse from the 
normal seventy-two to one hundred and eighteen. On these 
occasions he would have to be supported to his retiring-room, 
and laid on a sofa for fully ten minutes before he could 

174 HEALTH. 

speak a rational or consecutive sentence. Yet this reading 
he gave frequently. Can one help feeling that a course like 
this is little short of suicidal? Macaulay, too, was per- 
petually overworked by his History ; and, as his biographer 
well remarks, there is no overwork like that which has 
grown to be dearer to a man than life itself. Trevelyan, 
writing of him at this period, tells us that he no longer had 
the nerve required to face the social efforts and to undergo 
the minute and unceasing observation to which he was, or 
fancied himself, exposed when on a visit to the city which 
he represented. Insatiable of labour, he regarded the near 
approach and still more the distant prospect of worry with 
an exaggerated disquietude which in his case was a premoni- 
tory symptom of the disease which was to kill him. Melan- 
choly and suggestive passages abound in his journal. " In 
the midst of my triumphs I am but poorly." " I am out 
of sorts, and cannot write ; why, I cannot tell." " I wrote 
some of my history not amiss, but I am not in the stream 

yet. I feel quite oppressed by the weight of the task I 

sometimes lose months, I do not know how, accusing myself 
daily, and yet really incapable of vigorous exertion. I seem 
under a spell of laziness. Then I warm, and can go on 
working twelve hours at a stretch. How I toiled a year 
ago ! " Ah, who doubts that in that sentence lay the secret 
of all his trouble, which even he himself did not yet seem 
fully to apprehend, as the very next sentence betrays " And 
why cannot I toil so now 1 " 

No one can doubt the assertion that when a man gives 
health for money he makes the poorest investment of his 
life, nor that when he gives money for health he makes, 
from every worldly point of view, the best. Some one has 
justly observed that it is, as a rule, the small man who never 
gets a moment, and who can never find a pair of hands 
as good as his own. "The man who cannot leave his busi- 
ness, or thinks he cannot, shows that he lacks the highest 

HEALTH. 175 

grade of business capacity. Money avails nothing to a 
worn-out man, but to a man slowly wearing out it avails 
everything when properly used. Time and money will buy 

In this connection it is interesting to note at what period 
of a man's career one may reasonably look for the best work. 
There is doubtless a certain point when it is full high tide, 
when men are at their best, when they are enabled to labour 
most assiduously, and when they may reasonably expect the 
best results from their work. Dr. Beard declares that from 
an analysis of the lives of a thousand representative men in 
all the great branches of the human family, he made the 
discovery that the golden decade was between forty and 
fifty, the brazen between thirty and forty, the iron between 
fifty and sixty. The superiority of youth and middle life 
over old age in original work appears all the greater when 
we consider the fact that all the positions of honour and 
prestige professorships and public stations are in the hands 
of the old. " Reputation, like money and position, is mainly 
confined to the old. Men are not widely known until long 
after they have done the work that gave them their fame. 
Portraits of great men are delusions, statues are false. They 
are taken when men have become famous, which, in the 
average, is at least twenty-five years after they did the work 
which gave them their fame. Original work requires en- 
thusiasm. If all the original work done by men under 
forty-five were annihilated, barbarism would be the result. 
Men are at their best at that time when enthusiasm and 
experience are almost evenly balanced. That period, on the 
average, is from thirty-eight to forty. After this the law 
is that experience increases, but enthusiasm decreases. Of 
course there are exceptions, but this is the rule." 

What then shall a man do 1 For one thing, he must learn 
to live more slowly. If you ask a comprehensive motto, let 
us say, "Less work and more repose." And by repose we 

176 HEALTH. 

mean rest of every kind. To begin with, we would insist 
upon more sleep. On this we lay great stress. Who doubts 
that this generation is wearing itself out for lack of sleep 1 
One of our most gifted writers has declared that were he to 
adopt a pet idea, as so many people do, and fondle it to the 
exclusion of all others, it would be that the great want 
which mankind labours under at this present period is 
sleep. " The world," he urges, " should recline its vast head 
on the first convenient pillow and take a prolonged nap." 
Is he not more than half right? Lack of sleep is a great 
waster of vitality. There was poor Ward, in London, worn 
out and dying before his time for want of sleep, his frail 
constitution weakened yet more by late hours night after 
night. Perhaps few learn to prize it at its true value until 
taught by sad experience of its loss. The victim of insomnia 
knows its worth. "Why is there no sleep to be sold?" 
exclaims the French financier with a sigh. " Sleep was not 
in the market at any price." If one would test its "com- 
mercial " value, let him compare, in any matter which re- 
quires nerve, one who has slept all night with one who has 
not, and he will not be long in doubt, rest assured. "I 
honour health," says Emerson, " as the first muse, and sleep 
as the condition of health." Brain-workers require the best 
of food and abundant sleep. As a rule, the larger the brain 
the more sleep needed. Webster went to bed at nine o'clock 
and rose at five. General Grant used to say during his 
campaigns, "I can do nothing without nine hours' sleep." 
Mr. Pitt was a sound sleeper, and slept night after night 
in the House of Commons, while his colleagues watched the 
debates and roused him when it was necessary that he should 
speak. M. Guizot, Minister of France under Louis Philippe, 
was a good sleeper. A late writer observes that his facility 
for going to sleep after great excitement and mental exertion 
was prodigious, and it was fortunate for him that he was so 
constituted. After the most boisterous and tumultuous 

HEALTH. 177 

sitting at the Chambers, he would go home, throw himself 
down upon a couch, and sink immediately into a profound 
sleep, from which he was undisturbed until midnight, when 
proofs of the Moniteur were brought to him for inspection. 
Once when the French army was manoeuvring in Spain, 
Wellington, who was watching them, became very tired. 
Pointing out one of their corps to a staff-officer, he told him 
that it was marching in a certain direction, and would be 
seen by-and-by at such a point. " When it is seen there, 
call me," he added, and wrapping himself in his cloak, slept 
soundly until called and told that the French had reached 
that point. 

" I would keep better hours if I were a boy again," declared 
Fields, the well-known publisher, " that is, I would go to 
bed earlier than most boys do. Nothing gives more mental 
and bodily vigour than sound rest when properly applied. 
Sleep is our great replenisher, and if we neglect to take it 
regularly in childhood, all the worse for us when we grow 
up. If we sit up late, we decay, and sooner or later we 
contract a disease called insomnia. Late hours are shadows 
from the grave." If one can, it is well to catch an interval, 
say of half an hour, during the day. He will soon find it 
amply repays him. Even the strongest man cannot work 
strenuously day after day without occasionally becoming 
jaded ; but, as Blackie well remarks, " a tired man is many 
removes from a tired-out one, and there is a great deal in 
knowing whether your work is overdoing you or simply 
tiring you." Moreover, every brain-worker should frequently 
give himself a complete holiday, and scrupulously forget for 
the time being, if possible, that there ever were such things 
as books in the world. Then, too, a man ought early to 
learn not to attempt too much, in other words, not to allow 
his ambition to override his better judgment. How many 
men fail right here ! I think it is Paxton Hood who some- 
where says he believes a good prayer for many an overworked 
(T) " 12 

178 HEALTH. 

man would be, ' ' Lord, help me to take fewer things into my 
hands, and to do them well." 

No one has better expressed the idea, probably, than 
Hamerton in his "Intellectual Life." "Let your rest," he 
says, " be perfect in its season, like the rest of waters that 
are still. If you will have a model for your living, take 
neither the stars, for they fly without ceasing, nor the ocean 
that ebbs and flows, nor the river that cannot stay; but 
rather let your life be like that of the summer air, which has 
times of noble energy and times of perfect peace. It fills 
the sails of ships upon the sea, and the miller thanks it on 
the breezy uplands ; it works generously for the health and 
wealth of all men, yet it claims its hours of rest. ' I have 
pushed the fleet, I have turned the mill, I have refreshed 
the city; and now, though the captain may walk impatiently 
on the quarter-deck, and the miller swear, and the city stink, 
I will stir no more until it pleaseth me.' " 

The real intrinsic worth to a man of these periods of 
absolute rest cannot easily be computed. And yet one will 
find, here and there, certain "matter-of-fact" sort of men, 
as they are pleased to count themselves, but who really are 
nothing more than what Charles Astor Bristed most aptly 
terms "the-just-see-before-your-nose-and-no-farther" sort, who 
have an idea that all time not spent in doing something 
tangible is lost ; and Bristed gives an old but clever illustra- 
tion for their benefit as follows : " A country manager saw 
that the trumpets of his orchestra were not taking part in 
an overture which the other musicians were executing. He 
rushed upon them and inveighed against their idleness. 
'But,' said one of the assailed, 'we have fifteen bars rest 
here.' 'Rest!' retorted the other; 'I don't pay you ten 
shillings a night for resting : blow away ! ' How the rest 
of the trumpets should be essential to the harmony of the 
piece was beyond his comprehension." There are certain 
people who seem to think that nothing is doing unless a 

HEALTH. 179 

great stir be made. To such we commend the words of 
Mrs. Browning : 

" Think you 'mid all the mighty sum 

Of things for ever speaking, 
That nothing of itself will come, 
But we must still be seeking ? " 

The sap silently feeding the limbs of yonder oak may, at 
any one moment, seem insignificant, but it is forming timbers 
for a ship of the line. 

If a man be wise, he will learn to husband his strength 
and give to each act only what is due. Some men waste 
their strength on trifles. Some use far more exertion than 
is really needed, even for their hardest work. It is with 
them much as if one should take a sledge-hammer to brush 
a fly off a man's face. This avoidance of waste amounts 
really to a fine art. Talma declared that the artist who 
tires himself is no genius; and Legouve', in his work on 
elocution, maintains that the breath has to play an immense 
part in that art, and its rules are the only inviolable ones. 
"An actor," he says, "launched on a stormy passage, 
carried away by passion, may forget the laws of punctuation, 
confound commas and periods, and hasten headlong to the 
conclusion of his phrase ; but he must always be master of 
his breath, even when he seems to lose it. An accomplished 
actor is never out of breath, except in appearance, and for 
effect." He gives this curious example of the science of 
economy applied to the breath. " Take a lighted candle," 
he says ; " stand in front of it, and sing a. The light will 
scarcely flicker ; but instead of a single tone, sing the scale, 
and you will see the candle quiver at every note. The 
singer Delle Sedie runs up and down the scale before a 
flame, and it never wavers. This is because he allows only 
the exact amount of breath to escape which is requisite to 
force the sound straight forward, and the air, being thus 
occupied in the emission of the note, loses its quality of wind, 

180 HEALTH. 

and is reduced to its quality of sound. You or I, on the 
contrary, waste a great deal of breath, and send the sound 
right and left, as well as forward." From this elocutionary 
rule he makes this fine deduction : In every act of life, 
spend no more than the exact amount of energy required. 
Every mental emotion is a jewel. Let us hoard it up for 
fitting use. How many people waste, in impatient and petty 
strife, the treasure of anger, so sacred when it becomes 
' righteous wrath ! ' " Among his rules for the preservation 
of health, Dr. Richardson of London insists upon the avoid- 
ance of anger, hatred, grief, and fear. " The strongest," he 
declares, " cannot afford to indulge in them." 

In this connection let us mention one factor not often 
touched upon, but surely one of the most helpful adjuncts to 
a man's largest success namely, a restful home-life. " I 
once asked the late Hepworth Dixon," writes a well-known 
authoress, " with whom I happened to be talking on 
this subject, what he thought was the reason why some 
women held their husbands' hearts securely and for ever, 
while others were but the brief tenants of a few months or 
years. ' What,' I asked, ' is the quality in a woman that 
her husband loves the longest?' 'That she should be a 
pillow,' answered Mr. Dixon ; and then, meeting the inquiry 
in my eyes, he went on, ' Yes, that is what a man needs in 
his wife something to rest his heart on. He has excite- 
ment and opposition enough in the world. He wants to feel 
that there is one place where he is sure of sympathy, a place 
that will give him ease as a pillow gives it to a tired head. 
Do you think a man will be tempted to turn from a 
woman whose eyes are his nattering mirror, who heals 
where others wound 1 ?' And surely," adds this gifted lady, 
"he was right." The wife should do what the wife of 
Mohammed did for him, believe in him when other people 
do not. 

May not this sense of helpfulness and refreshment for his 

HEALTH. 181 

work, which no one so keenly recognizes as the literary 
worker, explain also the striking public acknowledgments 
of indebtedness to their wives which world-famous men 
have sometimes made ? Will it not account for the touching 
dedications of famous volumes which one occasionally finds, 
us if their authors would insist that she to whom the 
volume doubtless owed so much should share in the honours 
it received? Now this may seem, at a casual glance, a 
secondary place, perhaps, for a woman to hold ; but no 
queen ever held so supreme a sway, nor so secure a throne, 
as she in her husband's heart. What can the doubtful 
honours and responsibilities, the unnatural burdens and 
festering atmosphere of public life, offer in comparison with 
the serener air of this enviable kingdom ? The thought of 
one sitting at home to welcome with restful and apprecia- 
tive tokens, has nerved many a man to knightly and heroic 
daring in the daily struggle with a hard-fisted world. 

Perhaps one of the most curious features of this subject 
of health is the wonderful influence of will-power in warding 
off disease. It seems at times almost miraculous. The 
well-known instance of Bonaparte's visit to those sick of the 
plague is only one of many which might be cited. Such, 
in fact, is the reflex influence of the mind upon the body 
that even preoccupation will sometimes effectually ward off 
disease. A thoughtful physician once assured the author 
that if an express agent were to visit New Orleans in the 
yellow-fever season having forty thousand dollars, say, in 
his care, he would be in little danger of the fever so long as 
he kept possession of the money. Let him once deliver that 
into other hands, however, and the sooner he left the city 
the better. David Dudley Field declares that one reason 
for his being so well is that his mind has always been 
occupied. " I am never idle," he says ; " in fact, I have no 
time to be ill" " No, we don't get sick," said an actor 
just in after four months on the road, " because we can't get 

182 HEALTH. 

sick. Patti and a few other stars can afford that luxury, 
but to the majority of us it is denied. It is a case of must, 
with us ; and although there have been times when, had I 
been at home, or a private man, I could have taken to my 
bed with as good a right to be sick as any one ever had, I 
have not done so, and have worn off the attack through 
sheer necessity. It's no fiction that will-power is the best 
of tonics, and theatrical people understand that they must 
keep a good stock of it always on hand." 

As regards the matter of eating and drinking, there can be 
little doubt that many serious errors have been committed 
right here. Abernethy used to declare that the two great 
killing powers in the world are Stuff &nd Fret, and Jefferson 
is credited with the remark that nobody ever repented of 
eating too little. Cheerfulness is always commended. "To 
be free-minded and cheerfully disposed at meal-time" was 
one of Bacon's well-known rules for " long lasting." 

It is curious to note that while some public performers eat 
heartily before their appearances, others practise entire 
abstinence. This may be accounted for doubtless in great 
measure by the condition of the nervous system. Of such 
moment is this regarded by Scalchi, the famous singer, that 
on one occasion when her manager, without consulting her 
beforehand, insisted upon changing the part previously 
assigned her for her evening performance, she absolutely 
refused to sing, and the matter resulted in a lawsuit in 
which she came off victorious. The court held that as she 
had been allowed to eat heartily, without due notice being 
given her of the change desired in the programme, and that 
it being, moreover, impossible for her to sing that particular 
part under the circumstances, the manager had no right to 
demand it. The reason for Scalchi's refusal was that " a 
hearty meal abated the nervous activity by means of which 
she throws her soul into her voice." It was simply a case of 
"food against mood." On the other hand, we are told of a 

HEALTH. 183 

very distinguished orator who always wanted a good dinner 
of meat cooked rare, and that on one occasion, being congratu- 
lated on a masterly effort, he remarked, " It was only that 
duck I had just devoured." 

Above all things, let one avoid getting into " ruts " from 
which he cannot turn out at any time if it seem desirable. 
One should early learn the secret of "dropping things." 
The habit is invaluable, and it should be acquired at any 
cost. Kingsley possessed this power in a remarkable degree. 
" Luckily for me," he says, " I can stop from all work at 
short notice, and turn head over heels in the sight of all 
creation for a spell." Let the man of business, the banker, 
the professor, learn to turn the key upon his cares in hours of 
leisure, and shove the bolt inexorably against them. Glad- 
stone has never allowed business of any kind to enter his 
chamber door. " In all my political life," he declares, " I 
have never been kept awake five minutes by any debate in 
Parliament." Few people can realize the decision requisite 
at times on the part of public men in this matter of simply 
maintaining an attitude of self-defence. The inroads of 
friends, and that hydra-headed monster the public, make 
great demands upon both the time and the patience of a 
public man. When Andrew Jackson was President, certain 
friends from a distance, visiting Washington, resolved to see 
him. Jackson happened to be unusually busy, and had been 
worried and annoyed for hours by the incessant demands 
made upon him, and when the cards were handed in he sent 
back word that he must be excused. Presuming upon old 
acquaintance, the request was renewed. He again sent back 
word that he really could not see them. Still persisting in 
their attempt, Jackson presently appeared in person. To 
use a mild expression, the President was far from serene. 
" My friends," he exclaimed, " I presume you think it a 
mighty fine thing to live in this White House. I assure 
you, however, that I have found it a perfect hell!" Even 

184 HEALTH. 

on his death-bed he was tortured by office-seekers. " I am 
dying," said he, " as fast as I can, and they all know it ; but 
they keep swarming about me in crowds, seeking for office, 
intriguing for office." Poor Johnson, too, while President, 
was harassed beyond measure. It remained for Grant, with 
that fine decision and indomitable will of his, to show the 
dear public that a man's rights could and should be respected. 
None more faithful than he to all, until the hour came when 
the public duties of the day must cease. After that his time 
was his own, and his determination to have his needed rest 
was inexorable. And he was right. Alas, the ills endured 
by long-suffering men who lack decision ! 

Another great factor which all have insisted on is exer- 
cise. Indeed, all observation attests that the healthiest per- 
sons are those most fully employed. Rusting out, let it be 
remembered, is, after all, a more rapid process than wearing 
out. Look at David Dudley Field, for instance. What has 
made him so hale and hearty in his old age ? These are his 
own words : " My recipe for self-preservation is exercise ! I 
am a very temperate man, and have always been so. I have 
taken care of myself, and as I have a good constitution, I 
suppose that is the reason I am so well." 

After all is said, in spite of one's best efforts and utmost 
care, unforeseen circumstances, an unnoticed draught from an 
open window, or some equally trivial circumstance, will now 
and then throw one upon the invalid list for a time. This is 
the common lot. Illness is a great leveller. When Cassius 
would show "great Caesar" on a level with himself, he 
cries : 

" He had a fever when he was in Spain, 
And when the fit was on him, I did mark 
How he did shake : 'tis true, this god did shake !" 

As some one has truly observed, pedants write of kings, 
heroes, and statesmen as never doing anything but upon the 
deepest principles of sound policy ; but those who see and 

HEALTH. 185 

observe kings, heroes, and statesmen, discover that they 
have headaches, indigestions, humours and passions, just like 
other people, every one of which, in its turn, determines 
their will in defiance of their reason. Even the strongest 
and most prudent are doubtless at times betrayed into indis- 
cretions and overwork under the spur of a noble ambition 
which has taken possession of the soul. Painfully, and 
through travail of soul, man comes to know at length his 
limitations. A writer in All the Year Round has finely 
voiced what many have doubtless felt. Asking himself 
what he should choose, whether fame, or love, or life, if 
some great angel spake and bade him choose " from treasure 
infinite," and finding in each of these somewhat to mar his 
great ideal, he says : 

" I would choose Work, and never-failing power 
To work without weak hindrance by the way, 
Without recurrence of the weary hour 
When tired tyrant nature holds its sway 
Over the busy brain and toiling hand. 
Ah ! if an angel came to me to-night 
Speaking in language of the unknown land, 
So would I choose from treasure infinite. 
But well I know the blessed gift I crave, 
The tireless strength for never-ending task, 
Is not for this life. But beyond the grave, 
It may be I shall find the thing I ask ; 
For I believe there is a better land, 
Where will, and work, and strength go hand in hand." 



People smile at the "enthusiasm of youth," that enthusiasm which 
they themselves secretly look back at with a sigh, perhaps unconscious 
that it is partly their own fault that they ever lost it. KINGSLEY. 

The labour we delight in physics pain. SHAKESPEAKE. 

WHO has not seen men splendidly equipped in every par- 
ticular, with fine endowments, much learning, and many 
advantages, yet who, notwithstanding all these, seem to 
accomplish nothing in the world 1 And why is it, we ask 1 
Failure is evident ; but from what cause 1 Is it not that they 
are too often lacking in the single trait of enthusiasm, which 
alone can fuse and make available one's other great qualities? 
The machinery is perfect, the boiler sound, but there is no 
fire, and hence no steam. They have no enthusiasm them- 
selves, hence no power to kindle it in others. Life seemingly, 
so far as they are concerned, is a pitiful failure, barren of 
results. An intelligent lady remarked to the writer con- 
cerning one of her sons, that he had excellent natural 
abilities, a fine teacher, and all the elements apparently 
necessary to success; "but," she continued, "he has no 
enthusiasm, and will never exert himself enough to do that 
which he might, if he would, easily accomplish." Is not this 
true of many a one 1 One cannot help wishing at times for 
some potent influence to break, even rudely if need be, the 
strange spell, and arouse these natures of which so much 
might reasonably be expected. 


What could be more beautiful and inspiring than the 
noble enthusiasm of youth ? With its lofty aspirations, its 
"burnings to be great," youth fondly thinks its ingenuous- 
ness and trust will always last. It hears intimations ever 
and anon that it will be otherwise, but resolves that what- 
ever may have been the experience of others, its own case 
shall be the exception. Its sensibilities shall not be blunted 
by the hardness of . men nor the coldness of the world. It 
has not yet come to realize " all that mysteriously fatal pres- 
sure which the years exert to reduce every ideal aim to the 
commonplace standard." As this appears, however, to be 
well-nigh inevitable, it would certainly seem no more than 
fair that all right-minded persons should bear in mind that 
injunction of Julius Hare, never to check the enthusiasm of 
youth, because we need a good stock of it as a sort of reserve 
force on which to draw as we go on in life. " We naturally 
lose illusions as we get older, like teeth," said Sydney Smith, 
"but there is no Cart w right to fit a new set into our under- 
standings. I have, alas! only one illusion left," he continued, 
"and that is the Archbishop of Canterbury." 

Let it be understood that we are not advocating what is 
familiarly known as " gush," to use the vulgar term. That 
is one extreme. What we do urge is that mysterious some- 
thing, call it what one may, which brings about great re- 
sults, that something which you will always find to have 
been a factor in the careers of all successful men, that 
something which successfully laid an Atlantic cable after 
thirteen years of defeat ; that sent Stephenson's locomotive 
on its triumphant way in spite of carping critics, and all else 
that might hinder its advance ; that sent " Fulton's Folly " 
out upon the waters of the Hudson to demonstrate to all 
coming time the wisdom of its inventor ; that swung the 
Brooklyn Bridge over the East River ; that reared St. 
Peter's, and wrought the " Transfiguration " and the " Para- 
dise Lost." Indifference never wrote great works, nor 


thought out striking inventions, " nor reared the solemn 
architecture that awes the soul, nor breathed sublime music, 
nor painted glorious pictures, nor undertook heroic philan- 
thropies. All these grandeurs are born of enthusiasm." 
And enthusiasm is not fanaticism. Some one has said it is 
the expiration of an inspiration. It is this inspiration that 
holds one, as has been already intimated, with unflagging 
attention to his work. 

While, then, we repudiate mere gushing sentimentalism 
as unworthy of any man, there is another and far greater 
danger which menaces young men in this highly artificial 
and pretentious age; and that is the affectation of indiffer- 
ence to all things, which is the opposite extreme. Fore- 
warned is forearmed, we are told. And it is well for one 
to remember that this lack of general sensibility which is 
becoming so prominent a characteristic of this age of affec- 
tations is the sworn foe to all simplicity of character. We 
warn any young man, therefore, whose aim is to make his 
way in the world and win real success, to give this sort of 
thing a very wide berth. The persons who labour under this 
disorder pretend to have lost their freshness of interest in 
everything. For them, as they would have it believed, there 
is no surprise and no enthusiasm. Does any one imagine 
such the most enviable of mortals? The French blase 
would seem most appropriately to describe their condition, 
or their assumed condition. Such a state, however, seems 
to us anything but tempting. It is like that genteel respect- 
ability of " our sovereign lord the king," who 

" Never says a foolish thing, 
Nor ever does a wise one. " 

Surveyed in some of its aspects, society seems one grand 

How seldom do we come to know each other as we really 
are ! Men pass and repass, day after day, and still are 


strangers. Women meet and converse, and part again, 
and still there are impassable gulfs never to be spanned. 
A thousand misunderstandings arise that never ought to 
arise. Uncounted alienations exist that a word, a look 
might have prevented. Differences, slight at first as the 
trembling of a summer's leaf, have by reason of these 
misunderstandings grown and magnified until ugly chasms 
yawn, over which the blessed angel of reconciliation may 
not pass. 

There is, says a vigorous writer, a maxim underlying the 
whole pagan philosophy, ancient and modern, Nil admi- 
rari (" Admire nothing ! "). It is simply the spirit of the 
sneerer, as Horace says again, Cum risu miror ("I never 
admire, but I sneer "). Wonder at nothing ! Never be 
excited to tones or thoughts of rapture or of reverence ! 
That sentiment is worthy of a pagan, worthy only of such 
a sad, irreverent age as this of ours. Rather let it be with 
you exactly the reverse. " Keep the pores of your spirit 
perpetually open to receive the health, the strength, and the 
excitement of all things : they are all shadows cast by in- 
visible presences. Have high models. Neither men, nor 
gods, nor columns have allowed indifferent poets to exist. 
And we may expect that the soul without enthusiasm will 
be but a sorry and a poor thing. I must not be indifferent : 
here is the foundation of success." In strikingly similar 
vein are the trenchant words of John Stuart Blackie. 
" There is a class of young men in the present age," he 
says, "on whose face one imagines that he sees written, 
Nil admirari. This is not at all a lovable class of the 
' youth-head ' of our land, and, unless the tone of not won- 
dering which characterizes their manner be a sort of juvenile 
affectation destined soon to pass away, rather a hopeless 
class. Wonder, as Plato has it, is a truly philosophic 
passion ; the more we have of it, accompanying the reverent 
heart, of course, with a clear, open eye, so much the better. 


That it should be specially abundant in the opening scenes 
of life is in the healthy course of nature ; and to be deficient 
in it argues either insensibility, or that indifference, selfish- 
ness, and conceit which are sometimes found combined with 
a shallow sort of cleverness that with superficial observers 

readily passes for true talent We are small creatures, 

the biggest of us, and our only chance of becoming great in 

a sort is by participation in the greatness of the universe 

The chief end of man, according to the Stoics, was, ' Spectare 
imitare mundum ! ' a fine thought, and finely expressed. 
But how shall a man see when he has no admiring faculty 
which shall lead him to see 1 and how shall he imitate what 
he does not know? All true appreciation is the result of 
keen insight and noble passion ; but the habit of despising 
things and persons and holding them cheap blinds the one 
factor which belongs to the complete result, and strangles the 

other He who wonders not largely and habitually in the 

midst of this magnificent universe does not prove that the 
world has nothing great in it worthy of wonder, but only 
that his own sympathies are narrow and his capacities 

The worst thing a young man can do is to begin criticis- 
ing. Such a maxim as the one mentioned may be excusable 
in a worn-out old cynic, but is intolerable in the mouth of a 
hopeful young man. " There is no good to be looked for 
from a youth who, having done no substantial work of his 
own, sets up a business of finding fault with other people's 
work, and calls this practice of finding fault criticism. The 
first lesson that a young man has to learn is not to find 
fault, but to perceive beauties. All criticism worthy of the 
name is the ripe fruit of combined intellectual insight and 
long experience. Only an old soldier can tell how battles 
ought to be fought." These are strong words, but they 
are true ones ; and the sooner a young man learns to 
discriminate between the true and false in etiquette and 


philosophy, the sooner and the more surely will he find 
himself approaching the success for which he yearns. Take 
for instance that so-called philosophy so widely prevalent in 
certain quarters, that it is vulgar to be demonstrative. If 
an old friend greets you on the street, after no matter how 
long an absence, you are by no means to betray in any 
manner the joyous emotions that instantly throb within you 
for utterance : this would be a most flagrant violation of the 
code. On the contrary, you are to receive him with the 
utmost decorum and the most frigid politeness, nothing 
further. Stifle your exuberant joy ; give the lie to your 
real self, to be demonstrative is vulgar. Of all the fashion- 
able follies of the day, what could be more absurd 1 Could 
any code, indeed, be more false ? Self-possession, it has been 
said, is a strong quality ; but who believes in this kind 1 
People who school themselves to this are not apt to have the 
other and better kind. They are not apt to manifest self- 
possession on such occasions as really call for it, occasions 
of difficulty, of danger, and of great trial. Touch their self- 
love, make any unusual demand upon them for self-denial, 
and their assumed and superficial self-possession vanishes in 
an instant. 

Self-possession, what do we mean by it ? The bull-frog 
has an unusual amount of that quality, of a certain kind. 
In his coldness and isolation he croaks a great deal, is noisy 
and complacent, and "eminently self-possessed." So, in cer- 
tain quarters, that coldness and reserve which never allows 
itself to be startled into spontaneity of expression is greatly 
lauded. But is it desirable ? To affect an indifference one 
is far from feeling, and to diffuse an atmosphere like that of 
an iceberg whose chilling influence can be felt fifty miles 
away, is it really worth while ? It is very true, as Holmes 
says, that we must not claim too much for sentiment. It 
does not, of course, go a great way in deciding questions of 
arithmetic, or algebra, or geometry. " Two and two will un- 


doubtedly make four, irrespective of the emotions or other 
idiosyncrasies of the calculator; and the three angles of a 
triangle insist on being equal to two right angles in the face 
of the most impassioned rhetoric or the most inspired verse. 
There is a great deal of false sentiment in the world, as there 
is of bad logic and erroneous doctrine ; but it is very much 
less disagreeable to hear a young poet overdo his emotions, 
or even deceive himself about them, than to hear a caustic 
epithet-flinger repeating such words as sentimentality, and the 
like, for the purpose of ridiculing him into silence. An over- 
dressed woman is not so pleasing as she might be, but at any 
rate she is better than the oil-of- vitriol squirt er whose pro- 
fession it is to teach young ladies to avoid vanity by spoiling 
their showy silks and satins." 

The more one sees of the world, the more one is convinced 
that simplicity is no less the inevitable accompaniment of 
true genius than it is of true greatness. A wise observer has 
said that true greatness never struts on stilts nor plays 
the king upon the stage. Conscious of its elevation above 
the rest of mankind, and knowing in what that elevation 
consists, it is happy to take its part in the common amuse- 
ments and business of life. It is not afraid of being under- 
valued for its humility. Chief-Justice Marshall was a fine 
illustration of this. In his hours of relaxation he was full 
of fun, and as natural as a child. He entered into the spirit 
of athletic exercises with all the ardour of youth, and at 
sixty odd years of age was one of the best quoit-players in 
Virginia. During the summer of 1820, at a quoit club near 
Richmond were collected at least half-a-dozen great judges 
and several distinguished persons of different professions, in- 
cluding Jarvis, the portrait-painter. A match was made, 
and the Chief-Justice threw off his coat and fell to work 
with as much energy as he would have directed to the 
decision of a question of neutral rights, or the conflicting 
jurisdiction of the general and State governments. In the 


course of the game, and when the parties were nearly a tie, 
some dispute arose as to the quoit nearest the ring. The 
Chief-Justice was chosen umpire between the quoit belonging 
to Jarvis and that of Billy Haxall. The Judge bent down 
on one knee, and with a straw essayed the decision of this 
important question, on which the fate of the game in a great 
measure depended. After nicely measuring, and biting off 
the end of the straw, he said : " Gentlemen, you will perceive 
this quoit would have it, but the rule of the game is to 
measure from the visible iron. Now that clod of dirt hides 
almost half an inch ; but then he has a right to the nearest 
part of the ring, and here, you will perceive, is a splinter 
which belongs to, and is a part of, the ring, as much as 
Virginia is a part of the Union. This is giving Mr. Haxall 
a great advantage ; but notwithstanding, in my opinion, 
Jarvis has it by at least the sixteenth part of an inch, and 
so I decide, like a judge, in my own favour." As has been 
said, a man who is not afraid, whatever exaltation he may 
have reached, to let himself thus down to the level of his 
fellow-men, must have that innate consciousness of genius 
which is in itself sufficient evidence of its possession. " How 
ages thine heart, towards youth ? If not, doubt thy fitness 
for thy work." 

Keal enthusiasm is infectious. And by this is not meant 
that quality referred to sometimes by the word in its cheap- 
ened sense. It is not a simple spasmodic ebullition, agitat- 
ing only the surface of the soul. Enthusiasm, in the best 
sense of the word, is not "a shallow estuary where a sloop 
might run aground," but is i-ather the mighty deep, bearing 
on its bosom the navies of the world. This it is which has 
ever been the inspiration of great endeavour ; this the majes- 
tic throbbing in all heroic souls. This through days of dark- 
ness and discouragement has nerved great spirits for their 
struggles, until at length the brilliant success was won. 

(TO) 13 


"Through long days of labour, 
And nights devoid of ease," 

saw afar the coming triumph. How such men take hold of 
other men ! How they stand out in history ! How the 
blood tingles along the veins at mention of their names ! 
Yet nothing is more illusive when one would define or 
analyze this power. The secret for ever baffles and eludes 
us ; yet the spell remains. Who can estimate the influence 
that the simple name of Caesar had upon the career of the 
brilliant hero of Austerlitz 1 France to-day has not shaken 
off the spell of the latter's mighty name. In the fair city on 
the Seine the mystic " N " confronts you everywhere. Do 
not the finer pulses quicken at mention of Raphael and 
Michael Angelo ? Is not the spirit stirred at the recital of 
names which have become synonyms of power and great 
achievement 1 It is always thus. Protogenes still worships 
Apelles ; Dante has Yirgil ever in his thought, the tribute in 
his heart : 

" Thou art my master, and my author thou, 
Thou art alone the one from whom I took 
The beautiful style that has done honour to me." 

Great men exist that there may be greater men. How true 
that is ! " We go forth," says Emerson, " austere, dedicated, 
believing in the iron links of Destiny, and will not turn on 
our heel to save our lives ; but a book or a bust, or only the 
sound of a name, shoots a spark through the nerves, and we 
suddenly believe in will. I cannot even hear of personal 
vigour of any kind, great power of performance, without 
fresh resolution. We are emulous of all that man can do. 
Cecil's saying of Sir Walter Raleigh, ' I know that he can 
toil terribly,' is an electric touch. We cannot read Plutarch 
without a tingling of the blood." 

Enthusiasm often becomes contagious. What more re- 
markable than its manifestations at times among vast bodies 
of men ? What marvellous power one sees in the unity of 


purpose which sometimes possesses an army or a people ! 
How significant is the French " esprit de corps ! " We have 
no expression in English that adequately renders this phrase. 
" Sheridan riding through the Shenandoah Valley exhaled 
that something which made all the difference between victory 
and defeat. Breathed into the soldiers, it turned the tide of 
battle. Advantages were less than before. The odds were 
more against them. There was simply one new factor, that 
utterance of Sheridan." But the something implied in that 
utterance was a revelation. It seized all ranks and all orders 
of men, swept through the valley like a whirlwind, made 
those under its influence irresistible, and won the day. Who 
has not seen, under similar influence, vast multitudes swelling 
and surging like the swelling of the sea, and well-nigh as 
uncontrollable ? A simple song may suffice to create it. 
Take that Marseillaise, for instance. Among the despatches 
found not long since in the Palace of St. Cloud was one to 
the following effect : "The Privy Secretary of the Emperor 
to the Minister of Fine Arts in Paris : You may authorize 
the song [Marseillaise]. The Emperor has charged me to 
inform you of this. It will be well if you will previously 
give notice of it to the Prefect of Police." Comment is un- 

As regards this influence of men upon each other, there 
are certain natures with which it is impossible for one to 
come in contact without feeling ennobled and lifted up into 
a higher region of objects and aims than that in which one 
is tempted habitually to dwell. Artists have often felt this 
power. The genius of Haydn, for instance, was first fired 
by Handel, we are told ; and Haydn himself believed that 
he would never have written the "Creation," had he not 
heard Handel play. The great are always friends. Nothing 
could exceed the admiration of Beethoven for Cherubini, and 
he most generously recognized the genius of Schubert. 
Young Northcote pushing his way through the crowd that 


he might get near enough to Reynolds to touch the skirt of 
his coat, and the satisfaction it gave him, as he afterwards 
confessed, reveal the "true touch of youthful enthusiasm." 
" Better, much better," says Blackie, " than even the mirror 
of greatness in the biographies of truly great men, is the liv- 
ing influence of such men when you have the happiness of 
coming in contact with them. The best books are only a 
clever machinery for stirring the nobler nature, and they act 
indirectly and feebly ; but a living great man coming across 
your path carries with him an electric influence which you 
cannot escape, that is, of course, if you are capable of being 
affected in a noble way ; for the blind do not see, and the 
dead do not feel To have felt the thrill of a fervid human- 
ity shoot through your veins at the touch of a Chalmers, a 
MacLeod, or a Bunsen, is to a young man of a fine suscepti- 
bility worth more than all the wisdom of the Greeks, all 
the learning of the Germans, and all the sagacity of the 

How in contrast to the influence of these gifted souls is 
the influence of certain other men whom we all know ! 
They are superbly educated, finely trained, but there is in 
them no light and no heat. They stand apart, cold, stately, 
glittering, " faultily faultless," but solitary and alone. Youth 
is not drawn towards them ; in fact no one is. They them- 
selves, possibly, are amazed to find it so; but the human 
heart instinctively knows its teacher, and cannot be deceived. 

Some people remind one of Sydney Smith's " Utilitarian," 
the man " so hard that you might drive a broad-wheeled 
waggon over him and it would produce no impression, and if 
you were to bore holes in him with a gimlet, sawdust would 
come out of him." The same author, in his classification of 
mankind, calls certain of this sort the " lemon-squeezers of 
society," people who act on you as a wet blanket ; who 
always see a cloud in the sunshine ; predictors of evil, extin- 
guishers of hope ; who, where there are two sides, see only 


the worst, " people whose very look curdles the milk and 
sets your teeth on edge." The brilliant Canon of West- 
minster in "Julian Home" pays his respects to a certain 
class of university men who profess to admire nothing, hope 
for nothing, and love nothing ; who think warmth of heart 
a folly and sentiment a crime. These men, he tells us, would 
not display an interest in anything more important than a 
boat race to save their lives ; are very fond of the phrase, 
" All that sort of nonsense," to express everything that rises 
above the dead level of their own dead mediocrity in intelli- 
gence and life. " If you would not grovel in spirit, if you 
would not lose every tear that sparkles and every sigh that 
burns, if you would not ossify the very power of passion, if 
you would not turn your soul into a mass of shapeless lead, 
avoid those despicable cynics who never leave their discussion 
of the merits of beer, or the powers of stroke oars, unless it 
be to carp at acknowledged eminence and jeer at genuine 
emotion. How often in such company have I seen men 
relapse into stupid silence, because, if they ventured on any 
expression of lively interest, one of the throng, amid the 
scornful indifference of the rest, would give the only acknow- 
ledgment of his remark by taking the pipe out of his mouth 
to give vent to a low guttural laugh ! Deliver us from the 
world without souls ! " 

Many doubtless are familiar with that interesting passage 
in John Stuart Mill's autobiography where he takes stock 
of the loss and gain in his own training, and decides that 
even his great debt of gratitude to his father for setting him 
as a youth in the intellectual position of maturity was almost 
cancelled by the rigid coat of reserve in which the severity 
of his education had enclosed all emotion and impulse. We 
so perpetually act and react upon each other that one never 
knows, in any accurate way, the influence he exerts. As 
the reading and re-reading of a single book will sometimes 
reveal powers of thought in a literary student, so the really 


great work of art of a master will some day perchance, after 
having been gazed at, admired, and passed, by amateurs of 
the more thoughtless crowd, fan into sudden flame the fire 
slumbering in an enthusiastic breast, and encourage some 
youth, obscure and all unknown, to exclaim, " I, too, am 
a painter ! " That inspiration shall carry the young man 
through his initial studies, shall blend the colours on his 
palette, guide his pencil, and shine upon his canvas, until 
some future Titian on witnessing his productions shall be 
ready to exclaim, " Were I not Titian, I should wish to be 
Correggio ! " When a mere child, Couture was taken by his 
father to the Museum of the Louvre, and the first picture 
he saw was the " Marriage in Cana," by Veronese. His 
father corrected him for exclaiming aloud that it was the 
" Marriage in Cana," pointing out to him that it could not 
be, because the figures were dressed in the costume of the 
Middle Ages instead of that of the age of Tiberius. The 
father soon learned from a bystander the mistake he had 
made, and that his son was right. " I do not know why," 
says Couture in his book, "but it appeared to me very beau- 
tiful." It was long afterwards that this boy was able to 
paint his famous " Romans of the Decadence," which gave 
him an immediate and wide renown ; but its striking simi- 
larity in matter and treatment to the great work of Vero- 
nese makes it seem a late result of that outburst of boyish 

No great man, it is said, really does his work by impos- 
ing his maxims on his disciples. He evokes their life. Nor 
let any one imagine that he can impress upon others the 
thought which has not mastered him and taken possession 
of his own soul. No one need expect others to respond to 
that which awakens no kindred enthusiasm in his own 
breast. The thought must breathe, and the word must 
burn, before it shall find lodgment and kindle the fire in the 
heart of another. 


" What poets feel not when they make 

A pleasure in creating, 
The world in its turn will not take 
Pleasure in contemplating." 

So writes Matthew Arnold, and nothing could be more true. 
Of course one cannot expect that the tide will never ebb. 
The wind goes down, and one suddenly finds himself be- 
calmed. The sails flap idly, and he is left tugging at the 
oar. The old enthusiasm has fled. One wonders where all 
the aspirations which but yesterday so thrilled him are gone. 
He goes grieving, and desolate, and sad. " The fresh morning 
yields to the hot, white light of the long, dull afternoon of 
life. " How monotonous and commonplace everything appears ! 
Life seems to have resolved itself into a succession of petty 
cares. The season of depression has succeeded that of ex- 
altation. Success is full of promise, it has been said, till 
men get it ; and then it is a last year's nest from which the 
bird has flown. Care smothers the rising aspiration. The 
hollow-eyed goddess, haggard and wrinkled and wan, clutches 
the arm and shrivels the sinews of endeavour. One is 
amazed as he realizes how dull and stupid and aimless it is 
possible to be. 

' ' We, too, have autumns, when our leaves 

Drop loosely through the dampened air ; 
And all our good seems bound in sheaves, 
While we stand reaped and bare." 

We are tired of the daily sameness of life. The tide has 
ebbed, and left behind only the flat and oozing sands. All 
men, even the most heroic and enthusiastic, have come to 
such periods. This feeling is voiced in Shakespeare's famous 

" Tired with all these, for restful death I cry ; " 

and in Shelley's plaintive words 

" I could sit down like a tired child, 
And weep away this life of care." 


Dr. Maurice Buscb, the Boswell of Bismarck, tells us : 
"The prince passes for a man of iron character for a spirit 
confident in and certain of itself. I do not deny that he is 
so; but he, too, has his moments of weakness periods of 
apparent or real dissatisfaction with his own performances 
and his destiny lackadaisical, or, let us rather say, gloomy 
tempers which express themselves in a sort of universal 
wailing." It is a part of that "inexorable weariness" 
which, as Goethe declares, lies at the basis of our life. 
Now, what is one to do? Let him do the duty that lies 

Closely allied to this condition, too, is a certain lethargy 
to which youth, perhaps, is peculiarly liable, though it is 
not confined to youth. Earnest and conscientious workers, 
men of great ability and industry and corresponding ambi- 
tions, often feel its power, and for the time must yield. 
Dr. Wilson has said, "It is the scholar's great affliction ; 
it is bred with thought beneath the brow that never sweats." 
Another has graphically portrayed its influence : " The 
editor busy at his desk suddenly feels the fatal influence 
steal over him ; his grasp on his subject weakens, the pen 
drops from his hand, his ideas move sluggishly, or seem to 
escape altogether ; he is utterly gravelled for lack of matter. 
The lawyer, listening to his client's story, discovers that he 
is not following him ; his mind refuses to seize and apply to 
it the principles of the law ; his thoughts wander and grow 
hazy ; he wonders whether he will be able to avoid yawning 
in his client's face ; a sort of aversion to the whole matter 
possesses him, and he feels that the utmost he is capable of 
is to get rid of his importunate visitor without betraying him- 
self. So with the college student, eagerly cramming for his 
examination. Just at the time when he should put in double 
work he is aware of an irresistible inclination to lean back in 
his chair, throw away his books, and let his thoughts idly wan- 
der on fruitless objects. The very power to make the effort to 


resist this seductive influence is wanting. The stirring 
music of the coming years which ordinarily stimulates him 
sounds distant and feeble. Rather the subtle strain of the 
lotus-eaters whispers in his soul, 

' Death is the end of life; ah, why 
Should life all labour be?'" 

Then, again, a habit of introspection and minute analysis 
is fatal to enthusiasm. Did one ever attempt to analyze 
the perfume of a flower without losing that subtile, ethereal 
something which gave it its charm ? Does not one find by 
pressing it too closely, by seeking to inhale its fragrance too 
long, as if to wring from it a still deeper secret than it chooses 
to give, that its very perfume is turned to bitterness ? And 
who ever sought to analyze a gorgeous sunset that thrilled 
him with delight, that did not find its glow already palling 
on his senses, and the thrill dying out of his heart, although the 
glowing splendour still burned radiantly in the crimson west? 
These finer emotions were never meant for the crucible. So 
surely as we treat them thus, the ethereal, evanescent spell 
will inevitably leave us, and forlorn and sad, a pale and 
ashen sky, or some barren relic of a nameless joy, will alone 
remain. One may then regret, but of what avail 1 

" Something beautiful has vanished, 

And we sigh for it in vain. 
We may seek it in the air, 
On the earth, and everywhere, 

But it never comes again." 

In these intervals of depression, when the rare, fine light 
which flooded the horizon has died away, again we ask, 
What is one to do? Surely we need not despair. The 
sunrise never failed us yet. In such an hour one must 
"fall back on the steadfast resolve of a happier time." Ad- 
here to lines marked out and projects formed in the hours 
of illumination, when the vision was clear. The dawn will 


come. Nothing is more striking than the contrast when the 
outlook brightens. The transition is sometimes sudden ; 
without a premonition it may come. A book may do it. 
The glowing page of some vigorous thinker has often stirred 
the soul to its depths. We rise up refreshed and strong. 
What is there that we cannot do ? Ah, the regal hour has 
come. Thoughts crowd one upon another. It is no effort 
to plan and resolve. As Emerson himself says : " Head 
Plutarch, and the world is a proud place peopled with men 
of positive quality, with heroes and demigods standing around 
us who will not let us sleep." And elsewhere he says that 
all poets have confessed to rare moments when a light, a 
freedom and power, came to them, lifting them to perform- 
ances far better than they could reach at other times. At 
such periods the intellect is so active that everything seems 
to run to meet it. "In spring, when the snow melts, the 
maple-trees flow with sugar, and you cannot get tubs fast 
enough; but it is only for a few days." It has been said 
that Nature is prodigal, but never a spendthrift. She hus- 
bands her resources, that she may be able to distribute. In 
days of plenty one must learn to anticipate the days of 
famine. " In these hours of affluent thought and emotion, 
when celestial gales are blowing strong, waste not a moment, 
for they will not always blow. Make good speed towards 
port while you may." 

Even a slight disturbance or interruption in the flow of 
one's thought at such times may make a marked difference 
in results. Rossini, while snugly ensconced under the 
blankets, in the midst of the glow and fervour of composi- 
tion, loses his manuscript under the bed. He is too warm 
and comfortable to get out and recover it, so he attempts 
to rewrite it To his disgust he cannot remember what he 
has already written, so goes to work and composes another. 
On comparing them afterwards, the first is found to be much 
the better of the two. Doubtless many an instance might 


be cited to show how a seemingly trivial interruption has 
often been disastrous to one's work. 

It is surprising, too, what an influence one's surroundings 
have upon his enthusiasm. But he cannot escape it. No 
philosophy in the world can make bare walls, ungainly fur- 
niture, and cheerless rooms other than depressing. It is 
curious to note the effect upon one's spirits of even dis- 
orderly arrangement in one's surroundings. But it is de- 
cidedly unfavourable. If one has never tested this, let him sit 
down and try to compose in an apartment where everything 
is in confusion. Then when the servant has put the room 
in order, let him note the contrast. There is a reflex in- 
fluence, refreshing and helpful, which one recognizes at once. 
Certain trained workers may, it is true, be capable of such 
concentration of mind as virtually to ignore surroundings 
for the time being; and yet there is an occult, subtile in- 
fluence pervading the very atmosphere which makes against 
one. The confusion around is pictured unconsciously upon 
the retina, and transfers itself to the thought, making con- 
fusion within. 

George Bancroft, the historian, is a firm believer in the 
theory that the brain at work is sensibly affected by the 
external objects around, and in some degree takes its tone 
from them. He works in a long, narrow room, adorned 
profusely with historical paintings. From his seat he has a 
full view of his art treasures, and frequently gazes at them 
as if for inspiration. A French critic of English manners 
once stated that in London a row of houses had been built 
along the river side of the Strand, with the view of guarding 
the inhabitants from the danger annually recurring of join- 
ing hands and rushing down together to drown themselves 
in the Thames, and he assigned as the cause the dulness of 
the weather prevailing there in November. " Of his facts," 
says an English writer, "I will say nothing; but I hesitate 
to accept his reasoning. If the temptation does really exist, 


it is the effect, not of the much-maligned month of fogs, but 
of the despondency arising from surroundings." Let us note, 
in passing, that not alone are such depressing influences dis- 
astrous to enthusiasm they are positively injurious to health. 

It is well known that there were certain streets in London 
through which Dickens would never allow himself to pass. 
With him, however, it was the painful associations which 
the surroundings recalled of the hardships and ill-treatment 
of his youth. There is no denying that certain surroundings 
are death to all enthusiasm, while others inevitably fill one 
with finest inspiration. The presence of high art, whether 
it be painting or architecture or statuary, at once sets the 
pulses throbbing. It may be even extremely minute a bit 
of church window, or a strain from one of the old masters 
yet the spell is there. It is not hard to believe that certain 
works could never have been produced in some surroundings; 
the depressing influence would have been too great. Nor is 
it difficult to understand the feeling which prompted certain 
of the old composers to don their full court dress whenever 
they were about to apply themselves to the task of composi- 
tion. Some have experienced the fervour and glow of 
literary composition most fully under the influence of fine 
music, while others are baffled unless all around is pervaded 
with quiet ; some have enjoyed working surrounded by their 
friends, others have found themselves helpless save in the 
perfect solitude of the study. As already intimated, visitors 
or society in any form are fatal to Verdi's work, and ex- 
tinguish all the ardour of his genius. 

No one can look upon the countenances of the old masters 
and not be impressed with that rapt expression which one so 
often sees. The intense enthusiasm which pervaded the soul 
reveals itself in every lineament 

" Like proud crags, high up, that wear the morning ere it comes." 
Longfellow once said, in a pleasant letter to one of his 


friends : " To those who ask how I can write ' so many 
things that sound as if I were as happy as a boy,' please say 
that there is in this neighbourhood, or neighbouring town, a 
pear-tree planted by Governor Endicott two hundred years 
ago, and that it still bears fruit not to be distinguished from 
the young tree in flavour. I suppose the tree makes new 
wood every year, so that some part of it is always young. 
Perhaps that is the way with some men when they grow old; 
I hope it is so with me." Louise Chandler Moulton declares 
that it must have been his thorough enjoyment of all that 
he had to do that kept Longfellow's work from telling on 
him. He was so full of fire and enthusiasm that one was 
insensibly beguiled in his presence into that frankness of 
the heart and the imagination which is so much rarer than 
the more commonplace frankness of thought and opinion. 
The intensity of feeling and enthusiasm with which Salvini 
throws himself into the part he is representing is remarkable. 
" This was especially evident," says one in speaking of him, 
" on the occasion of his playing ' Saul.' After the perform- 
ance I was invited to go behind the scenes to speak with 
him, and was surprised, as well as pained, to find him utterly 
exhausted. I could not help saying, ' How can you exert 
yourself thus to please so few people 1 ?' There were scarcely 
four hundred persons assembled to witness this sublime 
performance. He answered with honest simplicity, ' They 
have paid their money, and are entitled to the best I can do 
for them ; besides that, when I am on the stage, I forget the 
world and all that is in it, and live the character I represent.' " 
This, then, is one of the great secrets of success. One 
must have enthusiasm for his work ; and whether it be Bier- 
stadt at the easel, or Brooks in the pulpit, depend upon it, 
this factor will ever be found one of the prominent attributes 
of the souL It is a sad day when our ideal is reached. 
" Always think you shall succeed," was the advice of Dr. 
Arnold, " but never think you have reached the goal." 



" Manner is something with every one, and everything with some." 

There are certain manners which are learned in good society, of that 
force, that, if a person have them, he or she must be considered, and is 
everywhere welcome, though without beauty, or wealth, or genius. 

Give a boy address and accomplishments, and you give him the mastery 
of palaces and fortunes where he goes. He has not the trouble of earning 
or owning them ; they solicit him to enter and possess. Ibid. 

Civility costs nothing, and buys everything. LADY MONTAGU. 

THOSE who aim to be thoroughly and always masters of the 
situation should realize that no one factor contributes so 
largely to this mastery as a man's manners and address. It 
was said of Hercules that whatever thing he did, he con- 
quered. The same is true of some men. Their manners 
have made them simply irresistible, and have enabled them 
to carry their point in face of prejudice, envy, hatred, and 
all sorts of opposition, and seemingly even in spite of them- 
selves transformed their enemies into friends. "I have 
known men," says South, "grossly injured in their affairs, 
depart pleased, at least silent, only because they were injured 
in good language, ruined in caresses, and kissed while they 
were struck." 

What must have been the fascination of manner of the 
first Napoleon, which could lead the very soldiers sent to 
take him prisoner to bear him back in triumph to a throne ? 


There is no denying the fact that a man's manners give an 
immediate and permanent impression. We may not be able 
in so many words to analyze or define it, or to explain why, 
but the fact remains. Of course there are some who will 
affect to deny this, just as certain people affect to scout and 
deny the influence of " clothes ;" but who can safely ignore 
it ? We can never wholly rid ourselves of first impressions. 
Reasoning or arguing against them will not avail. In spite 
of ourselves, we are influenced, say what we may ; and that 
these first impressions are governed largely by " manners " 
and " clothes," it were folly to deny. " In civilized society," 
says Johnson, " external advantages make us more respected. 
A man with a good coat upon his back meets with a better 
reception than he who has a bad one. You may analyze 
this and say what there is in it ; but that will avail you 
nothing, for it is a part of a general system. Pound St. 
Paul's Church into atoms, and consider any single atom. It 
is, to be sure, good for nothing ; but put all these atoms 
together, and you have St. Paul's Church." Every one 
knows that the manner of doing things is often more 
important than the things themselves. It has been truly 
observed that the very same thing may become either 
pleasing or offensive by the manner of saying or doing 
it ; just as in works of sculpture, though the material be 
valuable, as being silver or gold, the workmanship is still 
more so. 

La Bruyere asserts that a man's worth in this world is 
estimated according to his conduct, and few who are ac- 
quainted with the world will be prepared to deny it. 
" Good-breeding alone can prepossess people in your favour 
at first sight, more time being necessary to discover greater 

Now, the achievement of this most desirable of accomplish- 
ments is not so difficult, after all. Graceful manners soon 
become a " second nature," if one really sets himself in 


earnest to acquire them. The frequenting of good society 
will inevitably confer them, and that, too, almost uncon- 
sciously. One naturally and insensibly acquires "the air, 
the address, and the turn " of those with whom he converses. 
Let one but consider for a moment the origin of the codes 
of etiquette which prevail in polite society, and he cannot 
fail to see how naturally fine manners arose. The good 
heart and good intention is the basis of it all. The desire to 
save annoyance or trouble, or to give pleasure to another, 
even at the cost of some denial or inconvenience to one's 
self, this is indeed the real essence of all the codes. "There 
is always a best way of doing everything," says Emerson, 
"if it be to boil an egg. Manners are the happy ways of 
doing things ; each once a stroke of genius or of love now 
repeated and hardened into usage. They form at last a rich 
varnish with which the routine of life is washed, and its 
details adorned. If they are superficial, so are the dewdrops 
which give such a depth to the morning meadows." 

Lord Chatham, in one of his letters to his nephew, defined 
politeness as benevolence in little things ; and Hillard 
affirms that we degrade politeness by making it anything 
less than a cardinal virtue. This benevolence may manifest 
itself in a thousand ways. It is revealed in little delicate 
attentions, and thoughtfulness for another's wants or 
pleasures. In unobtrusive manner it seems to anticipate 
all one's wishes or preferences. Then, too, its favours are 
conferred so naturally as to seem wholly spontaneous and 
without premeditation ; yet one finds every want antici- 
pated. Is it not this which has always given that nameless 
charm to Southern hospitality, and rendered it proverbial ? 
One visiting the South for the first time cannot fail to 
recognize this delightful atmosphere, this " old school " 
suggestiveness in the courtesy and attentions he receives; nor 
will he be slow to appreciate the charm. Say what we may, 
in whatever else its people may be wanting, for charming 


manners and delightful hospitality the South has ever en- 
joyed an enviable distinction, and deservedly so. 

When one considers in what an infinite number of little 
things human happiness consists ; that it is not made up of 
" startling events and great emotions," but of little attentions 
often renewed, kindly offices, cheerful looks and salutations, 
unexpected little favours, glad surprises, and the like, he 
comes to realize that mastership in this direction is as really 
admirable as the bringing about at rare intervals of some 
great and striking event. The opportunities for doing great 
things are so rare, after all, that they seldom come to any of 
us. To neglect, then, the little things that are sure to make 
life seem " more fair and sweet," is a great mistake. And 
the art is not difficult, as we have said. It is indeed very 
simple. The kindly heart will inevitably show us the way. 
It is Napoleon at St. Helena, meeting the labouring man 
bending under his heavy burden, and with his usual courtesy 
stepping aside, and mildly saying to his companion, who 
seemed still inclined to keep the narrow path, " Respect the 
burden, madame, respect the burden ! " It is Garibaldi en- 
tering mighty London, and amid all the tokens of welcome 
of the English nation, stooping to kiss the labourer's child, 
and in that single act " folding to his heart the working- 
people of England." It is good George Herbert stopping to 
lift the muddy wheel of the peasant's cart out of the ugly 
rut, and saying in response to the rallying of his friends on 
his soiled appearance, and the performance of so menial an 
act, that it would " make music for him at midnight." It is 
Wellington making room for the poor man at the altar rail, 
and remarking that all were equal there. It is the dying 
Sir Ralph Abercromby returning Duncan Roy's blanket ; or 
the King of the Belgians sending the wreath of immortelles 
to the weeping mother, as he happened to witness from the 
palace window the funeral procession of an unknown child. 
It is these, and a thousand other self-denying heroisms in 
(7) 14 


little things, daily repeated, in palace and in cot, that serve 
to illustrate what we mean. 

It is well to remember that pleasure is reciprocal ; no one 
feels it who does not at the same time give it. To be 
pleased, one must please ; and what pleases you in others 
will generally please them in you. Rest assured of one 
thing : if one is careless and indifferent whether he pleases 
or not, he never will please. Swift declares that Nature has 
left every man a capacity of being agreeable, though not of 
shining in company; and there are a hundred men suffici- 
ently qualified for both, who by a very few faults that they 
might correct in half an hour, are not so much as tolerable. 
They remind one of the story told of King James, who when 
asked by a nurse to make her son a gentleman, replied : "I 
will make him a baronet, if you will, but no power on earth 
could make him a gentleman." 

It has been said that one may do everything, however 
unpleasant it may be to those around him, if one only does 
it in the right way; and the instance given to prove the 
truth of this assertion is taken from humble life. A cat 
walks daintily into a room on a cold winter's day, and with 
a benign glance at the company, and a melodious purring 
sound, she walks leisurely round, selects for herself the 
warmest place in the room, perhaps the only warm place, 
right in front of the fire, curls herself up, and goes serenely 
to sleep, secure that no one will be so unreasonable as to 
question her right to sleep wherever inclination prompts her 
to sleep. No one calls it selfish, no one is annoyed, because 
she has done it so prettily and gracefully. Indeed, every one 
experiences an access of warmth and comfort in himself from 
beholding pussy's blissful repose. 

Now imagine the same thing done in a different way, and 
by a less self-possessed individual : if it were done hurriedly, 
or noisily, or clumsily, or diffidently even, or in any way 
obtrusively, what a storm of indignation it would excite in 


the bosoms of all beholders. How thoughtless, how incon- 
siderate, how selfish ! No, it must be done as the cat does it, 
without a sound or a gesture to provoke criticism, or it must 
not be done at all. 

Many a man, by certain seemingly trivial faults of manner, 
has given rise to such a dislike at first that all his merit 
could not get the better of it afterwards. 

" I do not love thee, Dr. Fell, 
The reason why I cannot tell ; 
But this I know, and know full well, 
I do not love thee, Dr. Fell." 

This familiar old epigram of Martial, thus anglicized by Tom 
Brown, has doubtless given apt expression to the feelings 
of many a one. Some, perhaps, would be puzzled to tell 
how it is possible not to love anybody, and yet not to know 
the reason why. But who doubts its truth ? Nothing, we 
may be sure, can ever excuse a man for neglecting the civili- 
ties due from man to man. When Clement the Fourteenth 
was made Pope, the ambassadors of the several States repre- 
sented at his court waited on his Holiness with their con- 
gratulations. As they were introduced and severally bowed, 
he also bowed to return the compliment. On this the master 
of ceremonies told his Holiness that he should not have 
returned their salute. " Oh, I beg your pardon," said he ; 
" I have not been Pope long enough to forget good manners." 
It is a comforting assurance to know that the desire of 
pleasing is at least half the art of doing it, and that the rest 
depends wholly upon the manner. And this one learns 
simply by attention, observation, and frequenting good com- 
pany. " If you always live with those who are lame," says 
the old Latin adage, "you will yourself learn to limp." In 
order to know the ways of good society one must of course 
avail himself of every proper occasion to make himself 
familiar with it, and carefully note the manners of those 


who are its acknowledged leaders. He will find that among 
well-bred people, as Hume says, a mutual deference is affected, 
contempt of others disguised, authority concealed, attention 
given to each in his turn, and an easy stream of conversation 
maintained, without vehemence, without interruption, with- 
out eagerness for victory, and without any airs of superiority. 
Now and then one will meet with a person "so exactly 
formed to please that he will gain upon every one that hears 
or beholds him : this disposition is not merely the gift of 
nature, but frequently the effect of much knowledge of the 
world, and a command over the passions." This mingling 
with men occasionally will save a man also from that dis- 
agreeable, egotistical bearing which one sometimes sees mani- 
fested, and which reminds one, for all the world, of the per- 
sonage of whom Tourgueneff tells, who "had the air of his 
own statue erected by national subscription." 

Chesterfield relates with charming frankness his own ex- 
perience upon his first introduction into fine society. "I 
remember," he says, "when, with all the awkwardness and 
rust of Cambridge about me, I was first introduced into 
good company I was frightened out of my wits. I was 
determined to be what I thought civil; I made fine low 

bows, and placed myself below everybody If I saw 

people whisper, I was sure it was at me; and I thought 
myself the sole object of either the ridicule or the censure 
of the whole company, who, Heaven knows, did not trouble 
their heads about me. In this way I suffered for some time 
like a criminal at the bar, and should certainly have re- 
nounced all polite company for ever, if I had not been so 
convinced of the absolute necessity of forming my manners 
upon those of the best companies, that I determined to per- 
severe, and suffer anything or everything rather than not 
compass that point. Insensibly it grew easier to me, and 
I began not to bow so ridiculously low, and to answer ques- 
tions without great hesitation or stammering. If, now and 


then, some charitable people, seeing my embarrassment, and 
being desceiivre themselves, came and spoke to me, I con- 
sidered them as angels sent to comfort me, and that gave 
me a little courage. I got more soon afterwards, and was 
intrepid enough to go up to a fine woman and tell her that 
I thought it a warm day. She answered me very civilly that 
she thought so too ; upon which the conversation ceased on 
my part for some time, till she, good-naturedly resuming it, 
spoke to me thus : ' I see your embarrassment, and I am 
sure that the few words you said to me cost you a great deal ; 
but do not be discouraged for that reason, and avoid good 
company. We see that you desire to please, and that is the 
main point ; you want only the manner, and you think that 
you want it still more than you do. You must go through 
your novitiate before you can profess good-breeding ; and if 
you will be my novice, I will present you to my acquaint- 
ance as such.' " Elsewhere he shrewdly observes : " Have 
as much gold as you please in one pocket, but take care 
always to keep change in the other, for you will much 
oftener have occasion for a shilling than for a guinea. Give 
me a man who has ready cash about him for present ex- 
penses sixpences, shillings, half-crowns, and crowns, which 
circulate easily ; but a man who has only an ingot of gold 
about him is much above common purposes, and his riches 
are not handy nor convenient Happy the man who, with 
a certain fund of parts and knowledge, gets acquainted with 
the world early enough to make it his bubble at an age when 
most people are the bubbles of the world, for that is the com- 
mon case of youth." 

It has been said that a man who knows the world will 
not only make the most of everything he does know, but of 
many things he does not know, and will gain more credit by 
his adroit mode of hiding his ignorance than the pedant by 
his awkward attempt to exhibit his erudition. 

Who has not seen men highly gifted, and possessed of 


most admirable qualities, their minds stored with all kinds 
of knowledge in fact, perfect walking encyclopedias 
appear at the utmost disadvantage in a mixed company in 
a drawing-room? Awkward and blundering, they become 
objects of the utmost concern, not to say terror, to their 
friends because of the uncertainty created regarding what 
overt breach of etiquette they may be guilty of next. And 
all this simply because of neglect in their early training, or 
the absence of that instinct of fine breeding which often sup- 
plies its place. " We see a world of pains taken," says Steele, 
"and the best years of life spent in collecting a set of thoughts 
in a college for the conduct of life, and, after all, the man so 
qualified shall hesitate in his speech to a good suit of clothes, 
and want common sense before an agreeable woman. Hence 
it is that wisdom, valour, justice, and learning cannot keep a 
man in countenance that is possessed with these excellences 
if he wants that inferior art of life and behaviour called 
good -breeding." In the same vein La Bruyere has called 
attention to the fact that although a man may have virtues 
and many great qualities, he may still be disagreeable ; and 
he affirms that there is a certain fashion in manners which 
is too often neglected as of no consequence, but which fre- 
quently becomes the basis of the world's favourable or un- 
favourable opinion of you. And he further shows that a 
little attention to this, by which a man may render his man- 
ners polished and engaging, will prevent others from enter- 
taining prepossessions respecting one which may be greatly 
to one's disadvantage. 

One thing is absolutely indispensable, and that is unfailing 
good-nature ; the avoidance at all hazards, and at whatever 
cost, of anything and everything which might wound, how- 
ever slightly, and the manifestation, instead, of simple, cor- 
dial frankness, unassuming, winning manners, and a sunny, 
perennial, golden temper. This never fails to please ; and 
so essential is it that Addison has declared that there is no 


society or conversation to be kept up in the world without 
good-nature, or something which must bear its appearance 
and supply its place. " For this reason," he says, "mankind 
have been forced to invent a kind of artificial humanity, 
which is what we express by the word 'good-breeding.'" 
How charmingly has Steele portrayed the influence of this 
admirable quality ! " Varillas," he tells us, "has this to the 
highest perfection, and communicates it wherever he appears. 
The sad, the merry, the severe, the melancholy, show a new 
cheerfulness when he comes among them. At the same time 
no one can repeat anything that Varillas has ever said that 
deserves repetition ; but the man has that innate goodness 
of temper that he is welcome to everybody, because every 
man thinks he is so to him. lie does not seem to contribute 
anything to the mirth of the company ; and yet upon reflec- 
tion you find it all happened by his being there." And he 
further declares that men would come into company with 
ten times the pleasure they do, if they were sure of hearing 
nothing that would shock them, as well as expected what 
would please. 

Let one beware of too much effort to make himself agree- 
able, and shun all excess. There is an ease and repose that 
characterizes those "to the manner born" which reveals itself 
unmistakably to the observant eye. Good-breeding shows 
itself most where to an ordinary eye it appears least. " One 
may now know a man that never conversed in the world by 
his excess of good-breeding. A polite country esquire shall 
make you as many bows in half an hour as would serve a 
courtier for a week. There is infinitely more to do about 
place and precedency in a meeting of justices' wives than in 
an assembly of duchesses." The golden mean, of which one 
hears so often, must be the rule here as elsewhere, in order 
to attain the surest success. A fine authority on elocution 
has observed that to serious-minded men there is but one 
true fashion in reading namely, to pronounce distinctly 


enough to be understood, but not so much so as to be re- 
marked. Mole, the actor, has declared : " Without the 
middle register, no reputation." The same is true here. 
Both extremes are to be shunned. Sufficiently cordial to 
be genial, but not so demonstrative as to attract special 
attention. " Do not think," dryly remarks Zimmermann, 
"that your learning and genius, your wit or sprightliness, 
are welcome everywhere. I was once told that my company 
was disagreeable because I appeared so uncommonly happy." 

If one would like to test this influence of manners, and 
would convince himself as regards their value, let him some 
fine morning take a walk along a busy thoroughfare, and at 
certain intervals stop a man and ask him the time of day, 
for instance, or the way to some public grounds. Let him 
demand the information from a few in a blunt and dictato- 
rial manner, and then approach the others with well-bred 
courtesy, and our word for it, he will not be left long in 
doubt as to its " commercial " value, to say the least. And 
right here let it be remarked : never be ashamed or afraid 
of asking questions, for if they lead to information, and 
you accompany them with some excuse, you will never be 
reckoned a rude or impertinent questioner. All these things 
depend entirely upon the manner ; and in that respect the 
vulgar saying is true, that one man may better steal a horse 
than another look over the hedge. Preface your question 
with a remark something on this wise, for instance : " I am 
afraid I am very troublesome with my questions, but no one 
can inform me as well as you." After an " exordium con- 
ciliatory " like that, to use a phrase of the rhetoricians, one 
need have no fear. 

We may set it down as a truism that one will, as a rule, 
find himself repaid in his own coin. The secret of the polite 
attentions of French servants is to be found in the courtesy 
of the higher classes toward them. Italian servants also, as 
is well known, are models of politeness. The wildest mis- 

MANNERS. . 217 

take made in their language by a foreigner when giving an 
order does not cause even the shadow of a smile to flit across 
the servant's face. The words " coachman " and " spoon " 
are much alike in Italian, as are also "cabbage" and "horse," 
"hair" and "hats." "I have seen," says a writer in the 
Century, " a servant when told to order ' the spoon to har- 
ness the horses,' receive his instructions as if spoons harness- 
ing horses was a sight he had been accustomed to from child- 
hood. Tell your coachman to harness the cabbage, or your 
valet to hang up your hair, and they would bow and retire 
to carry out your absurd orders which they perfectly under- 
stand, however with most decorous solemnity. Though they 
never presume to disagree with their employers, yet these 
polite servants are very firm in carrying out their own ideas." 
The writer tells us of once having a man-cook whose aversion 
to cats was as great as his mistress's fondness for them. Yet 
in her presence he always spoke of cats as most charming 
animals to have about the house. But no cat could be kept 
in the house longer than a week. It always mysteriously 
disappeared; had been run over, or had strayed away, or 
been killed by a dog, and the cook was thrown thereby into 
the depths of grief. Here, surely, was diplomacy worthy a 
minister of state. 

And why should not graceful little courtesies, both of 
language and of manner, be more common among us ? One 
is not apt, as a rule, to be surfeited with happiness of such 
innocent sort in this prosy, working-day world of ours. 
Why is it not just as well to use the decorous phrases as the 
rude, the dainty as the severe and bald ? Poetry is as cheap 
as prose. It was said of Villemain, that when he spoke to 
a lady, he seemed to be presenting her a bouquet. It lies 
much in one's own power whether the atmosphere which he 
shall create about him be ideal or otherwise. And who 
doubts that a man's surroundings, also, are not without a 
certain influence? As the editor of "The Thrift Book" 


shrewdly remarks : "A neatly -spread table will probably 
induce even the surly labourer to say, ' Please pass the 
bread,' instead of ' Chuck over the loaf.' " 

The expression, " manners of the old school," is familiar 
to us all, and doubtless most of us have an idea more or 
less distinct of what is implied in that phrase. Instantly 
the picture arises in our minds of manners which must have 
been very charming. Traces of them, as well as very 
striking illustrations, at rare intervals still reveal to us that 
this charm has not wholly passed away. " Sir Charles 
Grandison," remarks a well-known writer, "would seem to 
the youth of to-day an elaborate and very tedious man ; but 
those youth might learn of him many a valuable lesson of 
dignity and self-respect. It is, however, rather our concep- 
tion of the old manners than the actual historical illustration 
of them that we have in mind when we speak of the old 
school. Indeed, in its common use in such phrases," he 
continues, " the word ' old ' expresses an ideal view. Old 
times are not merely the times of our youth, or of another 
century ; they are times that never were, or rather they 
are ' real times touched by the imagination with a celestial 

glamour.' To describe a person as a gentleman or lady of 

the old school, therefore, is to speak of him or her not as 
resembling Sir Charles Grandison or the Duchess of New- 
castle, but as showing a gentle soul and refined courtesy, 
with a certain endearing fascination of address and an 
essential nobility of nature. There must doubtless be a 
dignity of bearing fully to satisfy the phrase, and just that 
slight and charming shade of difference from the current 
ways of to-day which we call quaintness. There must be 
also, for complete satisfaction, superior intelligence and 
cultivation ; indeed, there must be a harmonious blending 
of many high qualities." Speaking of a venerable lady who 
had recently died as in the loftiest sense a lady of the old 
school, he says her manner was that of one " accustomed to 


association upon equal terms with the most superior men 
and women, and no less accustomed to the most thoughtful 

sympathy and regard for those who are called inferior 

Present or absent, her benign influence was always and 
everywhere perceptible in her household, as, whether the 
service is proceeding or not, the odour of incense is the per- 
petual atmosphere of St. Peter's." 

Who does not instinctively and gratefully recognize the 
influence of manners like these ? There is a charm which 
awakens our reverence as well as our delight. Dining at 
Mr. Grenville's, Sydney Smith, as usual, arrived before the 
rest of the party. Some ladies were shortly after announced. 
As Mr. Grenville, with his graceful dignity and cheerfulness, 
went forward to receive them, Sydney Smith, looking after 
him, exclaimed, " There, that is the man from whom we all 
ought to learn how to grow old!" Of Lady Elizabeth 
Hastings it was said that to know her was a liberal educa- 
tion. It is not difficult for those who have ever been 
favoured with the companionship of such, even for a limited 
period, to understand most thoroughly what Steele meant by 
this declaration. 

True grace is elastic. In oratory, for instance, a very 
brief utterance expressed in a certain manner may mean 
vastly more than the mere words themselves. Thus one's 
manner of utterance may be intensely significant, and capable 
of producing effects undreamed of by the casual observer 
unfamiliar with such things. The manner of Bossuet was 
such when he pronounced the words, " The princess is dying 
tJie princess is dead" in his funeral oration for Henrietta, 
that he could no longer proceed, so impassioned were the 
sobs and groans of his audience. So also, when Massillon, 
in the funeral oration of Louis XIV., raised his arms to 
heaven, and after remaining silent for a moment, in subdued 
tones said, "God only is great!" the vast audience, breath- 
less and awe-struck, started to their feet as with one impulse, 


and bowed reverently before the altar. Garrick said, " I 
would give a hundred guineas if I could say ' Oh ! ' as White- 
field does." 

So in one's daily intercourse there are certain manners 
that simply of themselves have great significance. " Every 
one knows how a gesture will cling to the memory ; the 
merest little way of turning the head or lifting the eyes, 
such slight peculiarities of movement, although they may 
be not in the least strange or eccentric, seem to have some 
gift for fastening themselves on the attention beyond any 
outline of features in repose." The "artless manners," for 
instance, of certain graceful young persons whom one meets 
from time to time are a poem in themselves. And who has 
not been, impressed with what Parton terms " that myste- 
rious, omnipotent something which we call 'a presence'"? 
What is it? we ask. We have all from time to time 
recognized the vast difference in men in this regard. We 
understand fully what the term seeks to convey, but can we 
define the intangible something itself"? One can easily 
believe it to be, in great part, physical. A writer on oratory 
maintains that for a man to be eloquent he needs no small 
degree of physical health and force. Other things being 
equal, he will be the more eloquent, he says, who is in the 
better condition physically ; and he quotes a well-known 
philosopher who declares : " 'Tis a question of stomach and 
constitution. The second man is as good as the first per- 
haps better but has not stoutness of stomach as the first 
has, and so his wit seems over-fine or under-fine." Doubtless 
something like this would in part account for the difference 
which we are considering, but one hesitates to attribute it 
wholly to it. Indeed, do not facts often prove it otherwise ? 
Does not the great and hidden secret lie far behind all else, 
in the soul, the personality, after all ? An instance is fresh 
in the memory of the author which cannot but serve to con- 
firm this latter view. 


Many, possibly, have noted the curious fact that a public 
speaker under the inspiration of a great theme, and in the 
midst of an eloquent passage, often appears, for the time, 
physically larger than he really is. The author's attention 
was first called to this by a remark made in his presence to 
a speaker who certainly was not far from medium in size. 
" How much do you weigh 1 " inquired the hearer, a man 
of middle age and some experience. " Not far from a hun- 
dred and thirty." " I should certainly have thought," con- 
tinued the other, with the impression of the eloquent passage, 
doubtless, still vividly before him, "that you weighed over 
two hundred ! " 

There is often that expressed in looks and gestures which 
carries with it a nameless and mysterious power. George 
Eliot tells us, for instance, of Romola at Florence, and of 
an impalpable, golden glory, and the long shadow of herself 
that was not to be escaped. " One sees such mysteriously 
superior personages among those who have long breathed 
the air of privilege." 

There is no denying that certain manners have an influence 
like that of fine music or high art. They flash upon one at 
times, appealing instantly to all the deeper emotions of the 
soul, and make one believe all things possible. In their 
presence the spell and inspiration of high art are upon one, 
and they are to a man what beauty is to a woman, creating 
at once a prepossession in his favour, while the opposite 
qualities exercise as quick a prejudice against him. " There 
are people who come in ever like a child with a piece of good 
news." It was said of the late Lord Holland that he always 
came down to breakfast with the air of a man who had just 
met with some signal good-fortune. 

One thing we may rely on : Naturalness has a never-failing 
charm. It is doubtless true, as Jeffrey declared, that men 
are very long afraid of being natural from the dread of being 
taken for ordinary. " We are not natural by nature, and it 


takes one a long time to come to himself that is, to drop 
his mannerisms and come to his own true selfhood." It is 
ever true art which leads us back to unperverted nature. 
The one event, we are told, which never loses its romance, is 
the encounter with superior persons on terms allowing the 
happiest intercourse. Ah, these indeed are the soul's rare 
opportunities ! It has perchance for days gone groping, dis- 
heartened and sad, under frowning skies, chilled by untoward 
surroundings, environed by sinister circumstances, desponding 
and desolate. Life has seemed barren, fruitless, and naked 
as the leafless branches swayed by the winter's blast. Sud- 
denly, without premonition perhaps, some slight turn is 
given to our affairs. We find ourselves ushered into charm- 
ing surroundings, and lo, all is transformed ! The soul 
breathes again its native air, the ideal life is realized, the 
wintry past forgotten, the breath of the tropics is on cheek 
and brow, and ah, what a blossoming there is ! 

There is a certain " hardness of character " as Sydney 
Smith calls it, which proceeds not from malignity or care- 
lessness, but from " a want of delicate perception of those 
little things by which pleasure is conferred or pain excited." 
Persons possessing this gallop over a thousand fine feelings, 
and leave " in every step the mark of hoofs upon your heart." 
The same author declares the conversation of a well-bred 
man of fine sympathies to be a perpetual homage of polite 
good-nature, leaving you in perfect good-humour with your- 
self, because you perceive how much and how successfully 
you have been studied, while this other, although he has 
violated nothing which can be called a rule, has displeased 
and dispirited you, "from wanting that fine vision which 
sees little things, and that delicate touch which handles 

As regards that desirable quality, naturalness of manner, 
to which reference has already been made, nothing could 
be of greater importance to a public man. Garrick's career 


is a fine illustration of its influence and power. Henry Clay 
is also an illustrious example. It is said that Clay never 
indulged in an expression that was not instantly recognized 
as nature itself. Some of his intonations, we are told, were 
indescribable. " His mightiest feelings," says Dr. Alexander, 
"were sometimes indicated and communicated by a long 
pause, aided by an eloquent aspect and some significant use 
of his finger." These men were natural: how in contrast 
to the " starched and unnatural " manners of certain other 
men ! 

One of the most common and often a seemingly insur- 
mountable barrier in the way of appearing natural and at 
ease is one's own self -consciousness. Now, every one must 
have observed that the almost inevitable result of self- 
consciousness is awkwardness; and awkwardness, Emerson 
tells us, has no forgiveness in heaven or earth. " I was once 
very shy," says Sydney Smith, " but it was not long before 
I made two very useful discoveries : first, that all mankind 
were not solely employed in observing me ; and next, that 
shamming was of no use that the world was very clear- 
sighted, and soon estimated a man at his just value. This 
cured me." 

It is well to remember always that the best manners 
are the simplest, as it is in general proof of high culture to 
say the greatest matters in the simplest way. "It is God 
who hangs the greatest weights on the smallest wires," is the 
ancient maxim. Thus, the best style in writing, according 
to Coleridge, is that which forces us to think of the subject 
without paying any attention to the particular phrases in 
which it is clothed. Thomas Sully, the artist, relates that, 
when in England, the higher the rank the more kind and 
affable he found the people. There, " all is clear water and 
plain sailing in the best circles." In these "best circles" 
speech is "low and clear, with that delicious intonation 
which no schoolmaster can teach, and with a grace which is 


the Jim fleur of education, yet cannot be acquired, which is 
one of the long results of time, the inheritance of generations 
generously bred. These soft and gracious manners, which 
are simplicity itself, yet the outcome of so much unconscious 
cultivation, are the most beautiful things in society. They 
come to some, indeed, who have had no training at all, nor 
any ancestors behind them, by gift of nature, like any other 
kind of genius ; but ordinarily they belong to those who by 
nature have the best right to them, the descendants of well- 
bred people for generations." 

When one takes into account the fact that the whole sig- 
nificance of what is called society the whole aim and end 
for which people assemble together in social ways is to 
confer mutual pleasure, and to augment one another's en- 
joyment, he can readily see how utterly out of place must 
be anything disagreeable, whether it be in word or deed. 
Whatever has a tendency to make your friend dissatisfied 
with himself or with you is to be avoided. And yet, even with 
the best intentions, many a one has come to grief : some 
unforeseen circumstance, some ill-timed remark, or some 
innocent expression has leaped from the lips which one sud- 
denly discovers, to his dismay, to be of doubtful interpretation, 
and instantly he feels himself to have fallen into disgrace. 
The word is now master which but a moment before was 

In a little volume kept for the autographs of literary men, 
in answer to the question, " What are your favourite topics 
of conversation ? " Charles Kingsley once wrote, " Whatever 
my companion happens to be talking about." Who of us 
could have done better than that ? 

There appeared not many years since, in one of our promi- 
nent magazines, a somewhat notable article from the pen of 
Charles Astor Bristed, on "Impoliteness as a National In- 
stitution." Among other things the writer said : " There can 
be no doubt that what Walter Scott called ' the manners or 


want of manners peculiar to Americans ' has created a large 
European prejudice against us, has been effective to deter 
some desirable varieties of emigration, and has promoted a 
tendency to absenteeism among many of our wealthy citizens, 
and many who are by no means of the most wealthy. Of 
course one of the first questions which occurs to the thinker 
is : How far has this opprobrium been really merited ? " The 
writer then goes on to speak of the "overbearing insolence 
of the Jack-in-office through all his varieties, from the hotel 
boot-black to the railroad anything-you-like," and mentions 
the experience of a foreign diplomatic friend of his at a 
certain hotel in New England. " I do not doubt," he con- 
tinues, "or deny that it is possible to live some time, and 
move about largely in our country, and receive, on the whole, 
very civil treatment. If 8 a lottery, and that is just the 
trouble. It's the invalid and the Shanghai cock next door, 
over again. ' He doesn't crow all the time, perhaps he 
doesn't crow very often ; but I never know when he will 
crow, and am always afraid he is going to.' It is just this 
fear and dread of encountering rudeness which causes even 
those who know better to be tenacious upon ceremonious 
points of etiquette." 

Doubtless the strictures of this gifted and brilliant man 
are somewhat too severe ; and yet one can but acknowledge 
that in certain quarters there is just ground for complaint. 
Lest one should be led to think, however, that Americans 
monopolize the disagreeable manners of the globe, it may be 
well to recall, as a sort of companion picture to this last, 
Sydney Smith's arraignment of the manners of our English 
cousins. "I believe," he says, "the English are the most 
disagreeable people under the sun ; not so much because Mr. 
John Bull disdains to talk, as that the respected individual 
has nothing to say, and because he totally neglects manners. 
Look at a French carter ; he takes off his hat to a neighbour 
carter, and inquires after ' la sant6 de madam e,' with a bow 
(TO) 15 


that would not have disgraced Sir Charles Grandison ; and I 
have often seen a French soubrette with a far better manner 
than an English duchess." 

Of all the unmitigated evils which infest society, the class 
denominated " bores " must surely carry off the palm. And 
a "bore," you know, some one has wittily said, is the person 
who wishes to tell you all about himself, instead of letting 
you tell him all about yourself. However this may be, there 
are few of us who would not vote the bore an intolerable 
nuisance. In the author's possession is an unpublished letter 
of Oliver Wendell Holmes ; does Holmes ever write even 
a letter, think you, in which one does not find the well-known 
and inimitable touches of his humour or pathos ere its close 1 
This letter was written in response to a request for "a lyric," 
made by the managers of a great fair, held at Washington 
soon after the war, for the benefit of disabled soldiers and 
sailors. After saying that he must ask them to accept two 
of his volumes instead of the poem, he continues : " To write 
a lyric is like having a fit ; you can't have one when you 
wish you could (as, for instance, when your bore is in his 
third hour and having it all his own way), and you can't help 
having it when it comes of itself." 

Instead of parading one's information or learning, one 
must always keep it in reserve : 

" Men must be taught as if you taught them not, 
And things unknown proposed as things forgot." 

Above all else, bear in mind that self-possession, as already 
intimated, is absolutely essential to good manners, and is 
really the foundation of all grace. Without this one is never 
sure of himself, and is at the mercy of every chance. If he 
fail here, one is sure to be trammelled and fettered, and can 
never appear at his best nor seem at ease. For the time 
being he is a slave to that which is alien to his true self ; 
and the consciousness of this, ever present, the feeling that 


one is not giving expression to what his innermost instincts 
approve as right and fitting, only makes matters worse. 
One must train himself to conquer this at all hazards. To 
be master of the situation, one should "find himself at home 
wherever he is ; should by his own security and good nature 
impart comfort to all beholders." 

What could have been more charming than the manner of 
Disraeli in society? One who knew him tells us that he 
always talked to the guest next to him as he would to an old 
friend. That remark surely expresses volumes. The accom- 
plishment once ours, we may regard ourselves as having 
taken all the degrees in fine breeding ; all else is implied. 
At the same time, our informant tells us, he had few inti- 
mates ; " nor did his apparent frankness unveil anything 
more than he chose to reveal." 

One's manners in conversation must by no means be over- 
looked. In general company, beware of lengthy harangues. 
Talk often, but not long. " Did you ever hear me preach?" said 
Coleridge, addressing Lamb. " Never heard you do anything 
else," was the witty response of the genial essayist. If one 
tells stories, let it be seldom ; and then they must be brief 
and to the point. Omit every circumstance not essential. 

There is no person living who is not susceptible to the in- 
fluence of fine manners. Some men, it has been truly said, 
are more captious than others ; some are always wrong- 
headed ; but every man living has such a share of vanity as 
to be hurt by marks of slight and contempt. " Every man 
does not pretend to be a poet, a mathematician, or a states- 
man ; but every man pretends to common sense, and to fill 
his place in the world with common decency, and consequently 
does not easily forgive those negligences, inattentions, and 
slights which seem to call in question both these pretensions." 

Of one thing we may be confident, and it cannot be 
learned too early : if one wishes to appear agreeable in 
society, he must consent to be taught many things which 


he already knows. This is especially true if one is often 
thrown into the society of elderly people. And, by the 
way, let no one ever allow himself to fall into the indiscre- 
tion of using the word " old " in speaking of any such within 
hearing. This were to commit an unpardonable blunder. 

There is, we must confess, sometimes a tendency manifest 
even on the part of certain well-bred people to wear a 
theme threadbare before dropping it and changing to some- 
thing else. No fault could be more wearisome. The great 
charm of conversation is the art of passing naturally and 
easily from one subject to another when due attention has 
been given to the topic in hand. Failure to do this is often 
the occasion of great annoyance; for, as Yoltaire has re- 
marked, the secret of tiring is to say everything that can be 
said on the subject. 

Above all things, avoid "lugging in" a subject, and be- 
ware of a reputation for riding a hobby, or of " harping for 
ever on one string ;" otherwise you may expect to be shunned 
rather than welcomed. A certain individual who supposed 
his friends particularly fond of hearing about characters of 
Scripture availed himself of every opportunity to bring 
these in. " I affirm," said he on one of these occasions, 
"that this Samson was the strongest man that ever lived 
or ever will live." " It is not so," instantly remarked one 
of the company who had heard enough of this sort of 
thing, and determined to put an end to the tiresome 
twaddle, "it is not so. You are a stronger man than 
Samson, yourself." " How can that be ?" " Why, you have 
just lugged him in by head and shoulders." The worst 
thing about the infliction is the fact that one is usually so 
helpless in the presence of such people and so completely at 
their mercy. Few of us can muster the moral courage to 
" sit down " on them, or " squelch " them, as in the instance 
mentioned. The most one can do under ordinary circum- 
stances is to " smile and endure it." 


To some, the prospect of entertaining literary guests is 
sufficient cause for apprehension. Those who have been 
favoured with the rare privilege, however, have found them 
the most agreeable and easily entertained people in the 
world, we dare say. One has but to remember that the 
makers of books are not apt to be the ones most eager to 
"talk book." In fact, Parton somewhere declares that 
those who produce literature seldom care very much for the 
literature of other men and times. In any event one thing 
is certain : The great fact that " one touch of nature makes 
the whole world kin" is always on one's side, and there is 
ever a common ground on which all can meet ; for has not 
eminent authority declared that the way to a man's heart is 
through a certain portion of the epigastric region 1 If there 
be attention here, minor matters may be safely disregarded. 
Thackeray's " Now, don't let's say a word," made so win- 
ningly and confidentially to the friend next to him, as they 
seated themselves before the smoking viands at a sumptuous 
banquet, conveyed a world of significance. 

The gift of good sense is, after all, the foundation of all 
true politeness. Without this it is idle to think of success. 
One must know when to violate that code of conventional 
forms which common consent has established, and when 
not ; for it has been well observed that it is equally a mark 
of weakness to be a slave to these forms, as to despise them. 
Let one have the penetration and tact to adapt his conversa- 
tion and manner to circumstances and individuals. If for no 
other reason than the fact that these little items of courtesy 
have often made the fortunes of their possessors, it were well 
worth a little extra effort to secure them. 

Why is it that in presence of certain people one feels 
so ill at ease, under such a sense of oppression or tension, 
while with certain others one experiences such a sense of 
restfulness, something so grateful and refreshing, that 
their very presence is like a tonic ? Is not the secret to be 


found in this influence of manner of which we have 
spoken 1 

But aside from the mere question of pleasure and delight 
which they confer, and far beyond it, let us not forget that 
fine manners are really our safeguard, and that they consti- 
tute the great bulwark by which society is protected and 
preserved, just as the famous dikes of Holland protect its 
people from encroachment and destruction by the all- 
devouring sea. Though it may not appear at a glance, there 
is always a reason for the observances which society requires, 
and a philosophy behind them. And as regards the minor 
matters of deportment, one does not, for instance, eat with 
the knife, that is, put the blade of the knife into the mouth, 
not only because " the sight of the heaped-up morsel lifted 
on high disgusts the beholder, and allows opportunity for 
the exhibition of a voracity revolting to the delicate and 
sensitive," but because it is also dangerous ; and worse still 
as a recent authority has finely put it such use of one's 
knife indicates that one's immediate ancestry, parents and 
grandparents, did the same thing, and were not in that grade 
of life where attention is given to the small matters of fine 
personal conduct, and one has consequently been deprived of 
good-breeding, and if deficient in that particular, is probably 
deficient in most other particulars of the sort. " Inspection 
will show that there is as much reason also for most of the 
lesser points of what is called polite behaviour, the ob- 
servance of whose obligations is necessary, if for nothing 
else, in order to show that we are not sprung directly from 

If we were asked to mention any one principle as being 
well-nigh universal in its application, and as holding within 
itself the secret of pleasing under all circumstances, we 
should name the simple grace of humility. One must ever 
sink self if he would please and make others happy. There 
is a certain rare beauty in humility which imparts a name- 


less charm for all beholders. Let no one think that he 
shall please by merely showing off his own great abilities. 
" Learn to regard the souls around you as parts of some 
grand instrument. It is for each of us to know the keys 
and stops, that we may draw forth the harmonies that lie 
sleeping in the silent octaves." Each has the instinct of 
hero-worship ; and, strange as it may seem, instead of envy 
and hatred, there is " a loyal delight which even the most 
degraded and miserable of men take in every striking endow- 
ment or excellence of their more gifted fellows." 

Of one thing rest assured : No one can escape the bond- 
age of good manners. " Its fetters may be silken, but they 
are as strong as those that wheel the Earth along in her 
orbit. And while all must obey its laws, those laws furnish 
a currency with which if the beggar provide himself he is 
better off in all the markets of the world than the prince who 
is unprovided." 



We may not kindle when we will 

The fire that in the heart abides ; 
The spirit bloweth, and is still, 

In mystery the soul abides : 
But tasks in hours of insight willed, 
In hours of gloom can be fulfilled. ARNOLD. 
And thus the empty-handed years went round ; 
Vacant, yet voiceful ever with prophetic sound. LONGFELLOW. 
' How much grows everywhere if we do but wait ! Not a difficulty but 
can transfigure itself into a triumph ; not even a deformity but, if our 
own soul have imprinted worth on it, will grow dear to us. CARLYLE. 

THAT was a great night when, thrilled with the thought 
of his triumph, Edmund Kean rushed home to his trembling 
wife, and in a wild tumult of emotion cried out, "The 
pit rose at me ! Mary, you shall ride in your carriage yet, 
and Charles shall go to Eton ! " How long he had toiled 
and suffered, poor fellow, and waited for that one great 
night when he at length had London at his feet ! There 
was no royal road to this triumph, nor is there a royal road 
to triumph in any art. The path which leads to the goal is 
long, steep, and narrow, and many grow weary and heart- 
sick by the way. Toil, patience, and unflinching persever- 
ance alone can win the day. The race is not to the swift, 
much less to the superficial and pretentious. To be mediocre, 
it has well been said, is within reach of many, but to be 
great can be accomplished by but few. " The number of 

"WAIT!" 233 

unappreciated Juliets who, after having ' strutted their 
brief hour upon the stage,' have now subsided into the 
superintendency of the tea-urn and the buttered toast, is a 
sad commentary upon the fondness of young people essaying 
to mount Pegasus before they are out of their artistic 
swaddling-clothes. " 

One of the first and most important lessons for a young 
man is the learning how to wait. When will young men 
appreciate the wisdom contained in that old Latin motto, 
Festina lente ? In these days of scramble and rush, the man 
who really learns to "hasten slowly" will find himself vastly 
the gainer in the end. Scores of men are betrayed into 
failure through imprudence just here. They are always in 
haste, and always distanced. A distinguished traveller 
relates that while in Europe he started early one morning 
to climb a mountain. Stimulated by the bracing air and 
inspiring scenery, he pushed on briskly, instead of husband- 
ing his strength for the uphill work before him. Soon after 
setting out he overtook a peasant on his way to the summit. 
The man was walking slowly, yet with a steady pace. 
Wondering, as he left the countryman behind, that the 
inspiration of the atmosphere and the surrounding scenery 
had not produced upon him the effect which he himself 
experienced, our enthusiastic tourist before long began to 
lag, and by noon he was glad to throw himself down in the 
shade of a wayside tree. As he realized how severely he 
had taxed his strength, and that his fatigue made him loath 
to leave his shady resting-place, he happened to cast his eyes 
down the valley. What was his surprise to behold the 
peasant of the morning swinging up the road with the same 
steady stride, as fresh as he was earlier in the day ! Pres- 
ently passing the discomfited tourist, he disappeared in the 
distance, and left the traveller to his reflections on this new 
version of the fabled hare and tortoise. 

The great danger which menaces young men in these days 

234 "WAIT/" 

is that of making quantity more important than quality. 
Let it then not be forgotten that the best work is the work 
that takes time ; and nowadays more than ever before, per- 
haps, owing to the fierce competitions among men, the best 
work is the work that is wanted. In this country all delay 
seems irksome. It has been said that there are no appren- 
tices ; all from the start are journeymen such as they are. 
Those who would have passed for boys ten years since are 
to-day at the head of business firms such as they are. 
Young men seem to scorn the serving of apprenticeships 
such as their fathers served. Their attitude and bearing 
too often seems to say, " Go to, let us step out and make a 
fortune." One might infer from this that the making of a 
fortune was the easiest thing in the world. Such seem to 
forget that ninety-five out of every hundred business men 

Nothing is more to be deplored than this feverish haste, 
this passion for " short cuts " in everything, which seems so 
universally to prevail. There are no longer any boys. It is 
but a step from childhood to the young man. And these 
young men, half-fledged, and in no wise prepared to fill them, 
expect to step into positions of honour and trust and grave 
responsibility. Hence so many ill-starred careers. Hence, 
too, so often, the instances of certain young men, more 
reckless than usual, finding accumulations too slow, and 
quietly appropriating the funds of other men. Let it ever 
be remembered that forcing processes are injurious from first 
to last. Moreover, haste always betrays itself. The house 
constructed in haste and hurried to completion is apt to be 
leaky and often in need of repairs. In warping joints and 
gaping crevices and shaky foundations the builder's haste is 
always betrayed. It is only the seasoned timber that never 
gives. So, too, the volume written in haste, and made " to 
sell," is always short-lived and soon forgotten. How many 
in their feverish haste have thus marred their work, and 

"WAIT!" 235 

made a failure of what otherwise might have been permanent 
and enduring success ! Let us remember that the richest 
and mellowest fruits are not the sudden result of a day's 
forced and unnatural growth; but in the luscious morsel 
which tempts the palate we can almost detect the breath of 
the zephyr, the gentle benediction of the dew, the caressing 
of the summer breeze, the kisses of the sun, and all the 
nameless influences which have nursed it into ripe perfection. 
So among men. The rarest products are never the result of 
haste, are never forced, but like the autumn fruitage are the 
outcome of a thousand mysterious influences which have 
brought them forth. 

Longfellow long ago declared the great want of our 
national character to be "the dignity of repose." "We 
seem to live," he declared, "in the midst of a battle there 
is such a din, such a hurrying to and fro. In the streets of 
a crowded city it is difficult to walk slowly. You feel the 
rushing of the crowd, and rush with it onward. In the 
press of our life it is difficult to be calm. In this stress of 
wind and tide all professions seem to drag their anchors, and 
are swept out into the main." Now, in the midst of all 
this stress and hurry, it is worth while for a young man to 
deliberately pause and take home to himself this truth 
"The world is his who knows how to wait." Let him dare 
to believe it; for, rest assured, a conviction like this will 
prove invaluable to any man. "This idea of short cuts," 
remarks a certain writer, " the notion that if a thing is to 
be done at all, then 'twere well 'twere done quickly, ad- 
mirable as it may be on the Exchange, is justly said to rub 
from life its delicacy and bloom when made the ruling 
maxim in all other relations and positions. A life with 
leisure hours in it for watching and examining all that we 
pass would seem a much more enviable and rational lot than 
a swift rushing from one goal to another, from one sort of 
fame or power or opulence to another and more remote." 

236 " WAIT!" 

As a rule, we are far too hasty and precipitate. "We read 
the preface, and declare we know the whole book. Learn to 
wait. Nondum (" Not yet ") was in early life the motto of 
Charles V. ; and no less an authority than De Maistre has 
declared that the great secret of success is to know how to 
wait. Many a man has failed who might have succeeded 
had he but learned this lesson. True, it requires courage 
and self-denial ; but what was ever attained worth the having 
without these 1 Patience, we are told, is the art of hoping. 

" How poor are they that have not patience ! 
What wound did ever heal but by degrees ? " 

As Montesquieu well says, the success of the greater part 
of things depends upon knowing how long it takes to suc- 

" Don't be whining about not having a fair chance," says 
a vigorous writer. " Throw a sensible man out of a window, 
and he will fall on his feet and ask the nearest way to his 
work. A scant breakfast in the morning of life sharpens 
the appetite for a feast later in the day. Your present want 
will make future prosperity all the sweeter." The young 
man who means to reach the heights " by great men reached 
and kept " should understand that the broad and easy roads 
and short cuts, so popular in these modern days, do not lead 
to them. Those who have gained them were toiling upward 
in the night by the old-fashioned, rugged ways, while their 
companions slept. Men who rise in this way are not made 
dizzy by sudden elevation. The great moment comes at 
length, and they " walk up to fame as to a friend." The 
classic face of the first Napoleon, when he became master of 
Prussia as well as of all Germany, remained as cold and calm 
in those days of proud triumph as it had been in the days of 
adversity. His successes seemed to surprise him as little as 
his early misfortune had discouraged him. In Longfellow's 
"Falcon of Ser Federigo," in the "Tales of a Wayside Inn," 

"WAIT!" 237 

we find this principle beautifully illustrated, and that last 
line sums up the whole, 

" All things come round to him who will but wait." 

Does not one sometimes look back wistfully to the good 
old coaching days ? How delightful they must have been ! 
A genial essayist has declared that he could be well content 
to live upon the road, instead of getting on at the present 
rate, and being impatient to arrive at some town, only, 
perhaps, to be equally restless when arrived there. Not 
that he was insensible to the pleasure of driving fast, stir- 
ring the blood as it does, and giving a sense of power ; but 
everything seemed to be getting a little too hasty and 
business-like, as though we were to be eternally getting on, 
and never realizing anything but fidget and money the 
means instead of the end. Does it not fill one with posi- 
tive dread to think of being hustled through Europe at the 
rate realized by some of our modern travellers ? Actually, 
the very thought tires one. Well has a keen and observant 
traveller cautioned such to " stay where you are happy ; " 
and the caution may profitably be heeded. The age in 
general has been rightly characterized as one of stimulus 
and high pressure. Effect is everything; results produced 
at once something to show, and something that may tell. 
" The folio of patient years is replaced by the pamphlet that 
stirs men's curiosity to-day, and to-morrow is forgotten." 
Society wants " its new number of something to appear in- 
cessantly. There is no rest nor repose, and one subject of 
thought succeeds another faster than wave succeeds wave." 
The crying need of our time is for more leisure, and for 
more leisurely preparation for one's life-work, and, as a 
result, better accomplishment. And let it be understood 
that by leisure we do not mean idleness. The idler or the 
"loafer," with "his idle hands always in his idle pockets," 
is only worthy of contempt. True leisure is the intermission 

238 "WAIT!" 

of labour "the blink of idleness" in the life of a hard- 
working man. 

One's waiting years, indeed, should be fullest of work ; 
for then the toil is most needful, and will tell most effec- 
tively in the line of success. And let it ever be remembered 
that all knowledge will some time be of value. "They say," 
remarks Herbert, "it is an ill mason that refuseth any 
stone;" and there is no knowledge but, in a skilful hand, 
serves either positively as it is or else to illustrate some 
other knowledge. The advantage of accurate knowledge, 
though seemingly of no present value, is sometimes very 
great. There is a notable instance in point. During one of 
the earlier years of his professional life, as Harvey tells us, 
a blacksmith called on Webster for advice respecting the 
title to a small estate bequeathed to him by his father. The 
terms of the will were peculiar, and the kind of estate trans- 
mitted was doubtful. An attempt had been made to annul 
the will. Mr. Webster examined the case, but was unable 
to give a definite opinion upon the matter for want of 
authorities. He looked through the law libraries of Mr. 
Mason and other legal gentlemen for authorities, but in 
vain. He ascertained what works he needed for consulta- 
tion, and ordered them from Boston at an expense of fifty 
dollars. He spent the leisure hours of some weeks in going 
through them. He successfully argued the case when it 
came on for trial, and it was decided in his favour. The 
blacksmith was in ecstasies, for his little all had been at 
stake. He called for his attorney's bill. Mr. Webster, 
knowing his poverty, charged him only fifteen dollars, in- 
tending to suffer the loss of money paid out and to lose the 
time expended in securing the verdict. Years passed away 
and the case was forgotten, but not the treasured knowledge 
by which it was won. On one of his journeys to Washing- 
ton, Mr. Webster spent a few days in New York City. 
While he was there, Aaron Burr waited on him for advice 

" WAIT!" 239 

in a very important case then pending in the State Court. 
He told him the facts on which it was founded. Mr. "Web- 
ster saw in a moment that it was an exact counterpart to 
the blacksmith's will case. On being asked if he could state 
the law applicable to it, he at once replied that he could. 
He proceeded to quote decisions bearing upon the case, 
going back to the time of Charles II. As he went on with 
his array of principles and authorities, all cited with the 
precision and order of a table of contents, Mr. Burr arose in 
astonishment and asked with some warmth, " Mr. Webster, 
have you been consulted before in this case 1 ?" "Most 
certainly not," he replied. " I never heard of your case till 
this evening." "Very well," said Mr. Burr; "proceed." 
Mr. Webster concluded the rehearsal of his authorities, and 
received from Mr. Burr the warmest praise of his profound 
knowledge of the law, and a fee large enough to remunerate 
him for all the time and trouble spent on the blacksmith's 

Be not too easily discouraged. It has been well said that 
we know what we are, but know not what we may be ; and 
it is much less what we do than what we think which fits 
us for the future. " Some men get early disgusted," says 
Sydney Smith, " from some excesses which they have com- 
mitted, and mistakes into which they have been betrayed, 
at the beginning of life. They abuse the whole art of navi- 
gation because they have stuck upon a shoal ; whereas the 
business is to refit, careen, and set out a second time. The 
navigation is very difficult : few of us get through it at first 
without some rubs and losses which the world is always 
ready enough to forgive where they are honestly confessed 
and diligently repaired." 

The things of a man for which we visit him, says Emer- 
son, were done in the dark and the cold. The hero is the 
man who "forgets himself into immortality." The truly 
heroic deed is always performed without a thought of the 

240 "WAIT!" 

blare of trumpets or the roll of drums. Fame enters in no 
wise into the calculation. In a fine article in the " Century," 
General Badeau, in commenting upon the hero of Appomat- 
tox, as he appeared at Galena in I860, while as yet "un- 
important and unknown," uses these significant words: "No 
restless ambition disturbed his spirit. No craving for fame 
made him dissatisfied with obscurity. Those nearest him 
never suspected that he possessed extraordinary ability. He 
himself never dreamed that he was destined for great place 
or power. Yet his vicissitudes had given him a wide and 
practical experience, and made him, unknown to himself, a 
representative American. He had learned patience when 
hope was long deferred, and endurance under heavy and 
repeated difficulties; he had displayed audacity in emer- 
gencies, as well as persistency of resolve and fertility of 
resource. If one means failed, he tried another. He was 
not discouraged by ill fortune, nor discontented with little 
things. Above all, he never quailed and never despaired. 
The leather-merchant of Galena was not without preparation 
even for that great future which awaited him all unknown. 
There were many traits in him like those of Moltke. Both 
lived simply, and almost unknown to their countrymen, for 
many years. Moltke, it is true, remained in his profession, 
and was more fortunate, as the world goes; but until the 
great opportunity came, he also was comparatively obscure." 
Fitz-Hugh Ludlow has pictured that mood of misanthropy 
which perhaps comes upon us all at times, in his striking 
poem, " Too Late : " 

" When we want, we have for our pains 

The promise that if we but wait 
Till the want has burned out of our brains, 

Every means shall be present to sate ; 
While we send for the napkin, the soup gets cold ; 
While the bonnet is trimming, the face grows old ; 
When we've matched our buttons, the pattern is sold ; 

And everything comes too late too late ! " 

" WAIT!" 241 

Thackeray once, somewhat facetiously perhaps, gave utter- 
ance to the same sentiment. "When I was a boy," said 
he, " I wanted some toffy. It was a shilling ; I hadn't one. 
When I was a man I had a shilling, but I didn't want any 
toffy." A certain truth seems to reside in such sentiments 
as these, it must be confessed ; but they are only partially 
true, after all. That is only one glimpse of the picture, and 
the darker one at that. Moreover, such sentiments are apt 
to be morbid, and the less one gives heed to them the better. 
There are too many exceptions on the bright side for one to 
believe long in shadows. Life is like one of Rembrandt's 
pictures the shadow only serves to reveal in finer contrast 
the true outline and bright reality, after all. Hours of de- 
pression will come ; but wait. It is always darkest, we are 
told, just before day ; a brighter turn of affairs may come 
at any moment. If burdens are heavy and energies seem 
sorely taxed, be patient. Remember those striking words 
of Mendelssohn, " For me, too, the hour of rest will come ; 
do the next thing." " There is always a black spot in our 
sunshine," exclaims Carlyle; "it is the shadow of ourselves !" 
Even in one's happiest hours there will come at times that 
curious moment's speck that indefinable something just 
enough "to dash our triumph and invade our joy." But 
these depressions, these hours of gloom, let us remember, are 
well-nigh universal; the stoutest-hearted are not exempt. 
The moth seems for ever striving to eat the garment, the 
shadow to devour the light. There are hours of darkness 
when we go grieving. Will God not enable us to fill out the 
ragged incompleteness of our lives, which so haunts us ever- 
more ? Is he so strong, and will he not remove the bars of 
sinister circumstance that environ us 1 ? Ah, if he only would ! 
Then a sudden light breaks in upon the soul The whole 
landscape of life seems lighted up. We see clearly the path 
which we should take the high duties for which we should 
brace ourselves. Faint not, then, nor falter. 

(79) 16 

242 "WAIT!" 

" Through efforts long in vain, prophetic need 
Begets the deed : 

Nerve then thy soul with direst need to cope ; 
Life's brightest hope 

Lies latent in Fate's deadliest lair- 
Never despair ! " 

The world is looking for men, and the success of all 
business enterprises depends on the character of those who 
manage them. " The trend of thought to-day is towards the 
accumulation of great fortunes. This has its influence upon 
the young, and in our great haste to be rich we have lowered 
the standard of business integrity. To be shrewd and sharp, 
even if not transparently honest, seems to be a favourite 
idea with some ; but a proper respect for the rights and feel- 
ings of others is sure to count largely in one's favour in 
the long run." The real object of all training and of all 
education should be to develop the best type of manhood. 
It is well to remember that, ' ' while nothing but the fairy's 
wand can realize the capricious desire of the moment, as 
regards the objects of laudable wishes, deeply breathed, and 
for many a night and day ever present to the mind," these 
are placed by Providence more within our reach than is 
commonly supposed. " Generally speaking," says Sydney 
Smith, "the life of all truly great men has been a life of 
intense and incessant labour. They have commonly passed 
the first half of life in the gross darkness of indigent 
humility, overlooked, mistaken, contemned by weaker men, 
thinking while others slept, reading while others rioted, feel- 
ing something within them that told them they should not 
always be kept down among the dregs of the world ; and 
then, when their time was come, and some little accident has 
given them their first occasion, they have burst out into the 
light and glory of public life rich with the spoils of time and 
mighty in all the labours and struggles of the mind. Then 
do the multitude cry out, ' A miracle of genius ! ' Yes, he 
is a miracle of genius because he is a miracle of labour; 

"WAIT/" 243 

because instead of trusting to the resources of his own single 
mind he has ransacked a thousand minds ; because he makes 
use of the accumulated wisdom of ages, and takes as his 
point of departure the very last line and boundary to which 
science has advanced ; because it has ever been the object of 
his life to assist every intellectual gift of nature, however 
munificent and however splendid, with every resource that art 
could suggest and every attention diligence could bestow." 

This inextinguishable courage is what men need. We are 
told of a young New York inventor who, about twenty years 
ago, spent every dollar he was worth in an experiment, 
which, if successful, would introduce his invention to public 
notice and insure his fortune, and, what he valued more, his 
usefulness. The next morning the daily papers heaped 
unsparing ridicule upon him. Hope for the future seemed 
vain. He looked around the shabby room where his wife, 
a delicate little woman, was preparing breakfast. He was 
without a penny. He seemed like a fool in his own eyes ; 
all these years of hard work were wasted. He went into his 
chamber, sat down, and buried his face in his hands. At 
length, with a fiery heat flashing through his body, he stood 
erect. " It shall succeed ! " he said, shutting his teeth. His 
wife was crying over the papers when he went back. " They 
are very cruel," she said. "They don't understand." "I'll 
make them understand," he replied cheerfully. " It was a 
fight for six years," he said afterwards. " Poverty, sickness, 
and contempt followed me. I had nothing left but the 
dogged determination that it should succeed." It did 
succeed. The invention was a great and useful one. The 
inventor is now a prosperous and happy man. " Be sure you 
are right," he says to younger men ; " then never give up." 

During the long years in which he had to make his way 
against the majority in the House of Commons, Disraeli 
never seemed disheartened by his repeated defeats, nor did 
he ever relax the vigilance with which he watched his 

244 "WAIT!" 

adversary. He never indulged himself, though he was 
naturally indolent, and often in poor health, by staying 
away from Parliament, even when business was slack ; 
never missed an opportunity for exposing a blunder of his 
adversaries or commanding the good service of one of his 
own followers. "Here is a wonderful career," remarks an 
eminent authority who knew him well, " even more wonder- 
ful to those who live in the midst of English politics and 
society than it can appear to observers who live in other 
countries. A man with few external advantages, not even 
that of education at a university, where useful friendships 
are formed, with grave positive disadvantages in his Jewish 
extraction and the vagaries of his first years of public life, 
presses forward, step by step, through slights and disappoint- 
ments "which retard but never dishearten ) assumes, as of 
right, the leadership of a party, the aristocratic party, the 
party peculiarly suspicious of new men and poor men ; wins 
a reputation for sagacity which makes his early follies for- 
gotten ; becomes in old age the favourite of a court and the 
master of a great country, one of the three or four arbiters 
of Europe." 

Nothing was more striking about El Mahdi than his per- 
tinacity and his power of holding his followers in spite of 
defeat. During the four years after he first raised the 
standard of revolt he suffered nine or ten serious defeats, 
with barely an equal number of successes. After every de- 
feat he returned to the attack stronger than before. Three 
times he was repulsed with heavy losses while besieging 
El Obeid, but he finally captured it. Hicks Pasha inflicted 
a terrible defeat upon him, but he subsequently destroyed 
Hicks Pasha and his entire army. Clearly the Mahdi was 
not a foe to be despised. 

A young man should learn to bide his time. " The horse 
that frets is the horse that sweats/' is an old saying of horse- 
men ; and it is just as true of men as of horses. Good men, 

"WAIT!" 245 

it has been justly observed, by a natural gravitation come to 
the front, and accident, or want of accident, only temporarily 
retards or repels them. Therefore when a man looks for- 
ward to his chances in life, his great business is to prepare 
himself for those chances. Moreover, as every one knows, 
too early flattery, unless one have strength of character 
sufficient to resist it, has been more disastrous by far, in 
certain instances, than cold neglect and indifference. It 
behooves one to guard against this danger most assiduously. 
The infant Roscius, who set all England ablaze with what it 
was pleased to term his genius when a child, dwindled down 
into very meagre proportions as a man. What one most 
needs is a resolution not to be content with one's self or 
with one's present attainments or performance ; to scorn 
ephemeral for lasting fame ; to turn a deaf ear to the unwise 
flattery of the present, and look to the permanent honour of 
the future. This alone can bridge one safely over the dan- 
gerous current of popular fancy. 

See how Balzac, in his lonely garret, toiled and waited. 
Keither poverty, debt, nor hunger could discourage or in- 
timidate. That inner consciousness of the possession of 
great powers sustained him. All undaunted by privations, 
hindrances, or discouragements, he could wait. Did not the 
ample fortune and splendid residences of his later years 
attest the wisdom of his course, and prove his waiting had 
not been in vain 1 Those familiar lines of the " Psalm of 
Life " have great meaning. Their influence may be a potent 
one if we are wise. Let them enter the soul, then, not only 
as the transient music of school-days, but as an inspiration 
for the sterner conflict of maturer years, and a clarion note 
for the battle of life : 

" Let us, then, be up and doing, 

With a heart for any fate ; 
Still achieving, still pursuing, 
Learn to labour and to wait" 

246 "WAIT!" 

The late Secretary Seward advised a young man who 
consulted him regarding the study of law, to learn, first of 
all, some certain means of subsistence by the labour of his 
hands. The great prizes, as a rule, in the legal profession 
come only after toil and patient waiting. Smiles gives us 
a notable illustration in the case of Henry Bickersteth of 
the value of this patient waiting, and at the same time the 
laying under tribute whatever may present itself, until the 
way shall open. " Bickersteth was the son of a surgeon in 
Westmoreland, and was himself educated to that profession. 
As a student at Edinburgh he distinguished himself by the 
steadiness with which he worked and the application which 
he devoted to the science of medicine. Returned to Kirkby 
Lonsdale, he took an active part in his father's practice ; but 
he had no liking for the profession, and grew discontented 
with the obscurity of a country town. He went on, never- 
theless, diligently improving himself, and engaged in specula- 
tions in the higher branches of physiology. In conformity 
with his own wish, his father consented to send him to 
Cambridge. Close application to his studies threw him out 
of health, however, and he accepted the appointment of 
travelling physician to Lord Oxford. While abroad he 
mastered Italian and acquired a great admiration for Italian 
literature, but no greater liking for medicine than before. 
On the contrary, he determined to abandon it ; but returning 
to Cambridge, he took his degree, and that he worked hard 
may be inferred from the fact that he was senior wrangler 
of his year. Disappointed in his desire to enter the army, 
he turned to the bar, and entered a student of the Inner 
Temple. He worked as hard at law as he had done at 
medicine. Writing to his father, he said, ' Everybody says to 
me, " You are certain of success in the end, only persevere ; " 
and though I don't well understand how this is to happen, I 
try to believe it as much as I can, and I shall not fail to do 
everything in my power.' At twenty-eight he was called to 

"WAIT/" 247 

the bar, and had every step in life yet to make. His means 
were straitened, and he lived upon the contributions of his 
friends. For years he studied and waited ; still no business 
came. He stinted himself in recreation, in clothes, and even 
in the necessaries of life, struggling on indefatigably through 
all. Writing home, he confesses that he hardly knows how 
he shall be able to struggle on till he has had fair time and 
opportunity to establish himself. After three years waiting 
thus, without success, he wrote to his friends that rather 
than be a burden upon them longer, he was willing to give 
the matter up and return to Cambridge, where he was sure 
of support and some profit. The friends at home sent him 
another small remittance, and he went on. Business gradu- 
ally came in. Acquitting himself creditably in small matters, 
he was intrusted with cases of greater importance. He 
never missed an opportunity, nor allowed a legitimate chance 
of improvement to escape him. His unflinching industry 
soon began to tell on his fortunes. A few more years, and 
he was not only enabled to do without assistance from home, 
but he was in a position to pay back with interest the debts 
which he had incurred. The clouds had dispersed, and the 
after career of Henry Bickersteth was one of honour, emolu- 
ment, and of distinguished fame. He ended his career as 
Master of the Rolls, sitting in the House of Peers as Baron 
Langdale." Surely one may easily forget, "in the vision of 
the Chancellorship, the lonely evenings in the chambers at 
the Temple, the weary back benches in court, the heart- 
sickening waiting, year after year, which are in the back- 
ground of the picture ; " for it is undeniably true that 

' ' There are points from which wo can command our life, 
When the soul sweeps the future like a glass, 
And coming things, full-freighted with our fate, 
Jut out dark on the offing of the mind." 

More than all this : while a young man is waiting, if he 

248 " WAIT.'" 

be true to himself, he is forming character ; and character 
in itself is one of the most singular of all our human quali- 
ties. There is a peculiar and subtile force belonging to it 
which we can perceive, and yet are unable to describe. 
Character is something entirely apart from its surroundings. 
" It is not the mere guinea's stamp, or the royal purple and 
crown, or the accident of birthright, or the whim of a ca- 
pricious and admiring public. But it is the man what he 
has made of himself." Character, as some one has said, like 
Achilles in disguise at the court of Lycomedes, does not dis- 
close itself till the trumpet blast is sounded, and there comes 
the rush for arms. The slow growth of a great character is 
one of its special necessities. As a vigorous writer has said, 
this strange might in men is not, and by its very nature can- 
not be, the work of an hour. What great growth in this 
world bursts into maturity by the first breath of spring? 
" The weed has its abrupt strength, but its death is just as 
abrupt, while its life is purposeless. But the oak grows 
very tardily, and seems to be as useless as the pebbles 
through which the first germ shoots above ground towards 
the sun and its own destiny ; nevertheless its life is a long 
one, and the centuries play harmlessly over its branches, and 
beat helplessly against its thick-barked trunk its anchorage 
is broad and deep beneath the surface. The young man 
hastens towards a reputation ; he gives ample proof of 
ability and success ; but only later in life does he find out that 
the world will admit him into its favour only after years of 
steady wrestling with obstacles, and slow stages of personal 
growth. But this ultimate judgment of men is the safe one : 
it comes after hard effort ; but when it does come, it will be 
the cairn, deliberate declaration of the right." Life in all 
its departments is of one piece and one texture, and its diffi- 
culties bring trial, discipline, and mastery. 

" But heard are the voices, 
Heard are the sages, 

"WAIT!" 249 

The worlds and the ages : 
Choose well ; your choice is 
Brief, and yet endless." 

" He that believeth shall not make haste," is the striking 
utterance of Holy Writ ; and, as old George Herbert tells 
us, the sure traveller, though he alight sometimes, still goeth 
on. Some one once remarked to Salvini, " You will make 
a grand Lear." "Yes," he replied ; " I think I shall be able 
to make something out of the old king. I have been read- 
ing the tragedy for some time, but it will still take me two 
years to study it thoroughly." Twain, in his "Innocents 
Abroad," has portrayed in graphic manner the unfaltering 
belief of the third Napoleon in his own brilliant future as 
he walked his weary beat, a common policeman of London, 
dreaming all the while of " a coming night when he should 
tread the long-drawn corridors of the Tuileries." 

This faith in one's self is, without doubt, an important 
factor in all great achievement. Enthusiasm, and even 
castle -building, has a legitimate place : the most enthusi- 
astic dreams of youth have again and again been realized, 
if not at times exceeded, in the after life of the man. " If 
you have built castles in the air," says Thoreau, " your work 
need not be lost ; that is where they should be. Now put 
foundations under them." It is curious to note how pa- 
tiently men have waited, and how long a period has elapsed 
at times between their early project and the final accom- 
plishment of their plans. "It is quite astonishing," says 
Grove in speaking of Beethoven, " to find the length of time 
during which some of the best-known instrumental melodies 
remained in his thoughts till they were finally used, or the 
crude, vague, commonplace shape in which they were first 
written down. The more they are elaborated, the more fresh 
and spontaneous they become." 

" It is never too late to mend," says the homely adage. It 
seems to find verification in the accomplishments of certain 

250 " WAIT/" 

men. There is something refreshing, it has been observed, 
in the fact that Plutarch began the study of Latin when past 
seventy ; that Dryden commenced his translation of the Iliad 
when sixty-eight ; that Colbert, the famous French minister, 
returned to his Latin and law studies when sixty; that 
Ogilby, the translator of Homer and Virgil, was past fifty 
before he knew the rudiments of Latin and Greek ; and that 
both Sir Henry Spelman and Benjamin Franklin were past 
fifty before they engaged in the study of science and philos- 
ophy. Milton in his blindness, when past the age of fifty, 
sat down to complete his world-known epic; and Scott at 
fifty-five took up his pen to redeem an enormous liability. 
"Yet I am learning," said Michael Angelo, when threescore 
years and ten were past, and he had long attained the high- 
est triumph of the pencil. John Kemble is said to have 
written out the part of Hamlet thirty times, and each time 
discovered something which had previously escaped him ; 
and during his last season he remarked, "Now that I am 
retiring, I am only beginning thoroughly to understand my 
art." His gifted sister, Mrs. Siddons, after she had left the 
stage, was visited by a friend, who found her in her garden 
musing over a book. " I am reading over Lady Macbeth," 
said the incomparable actress, " and I am amazed to discover 
some new points in the character which I never found out in 
acting it." 

Let no young man be disheartened on account of being 
unappreciated at home, or because, forsooth, his relatives 
persist in underrating him. The opinions of relatives as to 
a man's power Holmes declares to be very commonly of 
little value ; not so much because they sometimes overrate 
their own flesh and blood, as some may suppose, as because, 
on the contrary, they are quite as likely to underrate those 
whom they have grown into the habit of considering like 
themselves. It is curious to note how prone most people 
are to set an undue value on things at a distance, and to 

"WAIT!" 251 

underrate that which is near. And yet how true and how 
common it is ! It seems to be almost universally the case 
that that with which human nature is unfamiliar is straight- 
way magnified, and easily believed to possess great qualities, 
while Vile habetur quod domi est, as Seneca tersely puts it. 
Doubtless in certain families there is an absurd and unwar- 
rantable conceit regarding the gifts and abilities of members 
of the household ; but in certain others, as we know, the very 
reverse is true. One writer assures us of a family known to 
him, in which the boys during their early education had it 
ceaselessly drilled into them that they were the idlest, stu- 
pidest, and most ignorant boys in the world ; but no sooner 
had these very boys gone to a great public school, than like 
rockets they went up forthwith to the top of their classes, 
and afterwards were pre-eminent in university honours. 
"It will not surprise people who know much of human 
nature to be told that through this brilliant career of school 
and college work the home belief in their idleness and igno- 
rance continued unchanged, and that hardly at its end was 
the toil-worn senior wrangler regarded as other than an idle 
and useless blockhead." So, too, we are told of a successful 
author whose relatives never believed, till the reviews as- 
sured them of it, that his writings were anything but " con- 
temptible and discreditable trash." The fact is, as Disraeli 
somewhere observes, " custom blunts the fineness of psycho- 
logical study ; those with whom we have lived long and 
early are apt to blend our essential and our accidental quali- 
ties in one bewildering association." George Eliot has said 
many things truly, but none more truly than when she de- 
clares, with her customary and rare discernment, that our 
daily, familiar life is but a hiding of ourselves from each 
other behind a screen of trivial words and deeds ; and those 
who sit with us at the same hearth are often the farthest off 
from the deep human soul within us, full of unspoken evil 
and unacted good. 

252 WAIT!" 

Edmund Burke in early life was not happy at home, we 
are told, there being none among the household on Arran 
Quay to sympathize with his dreams and aspirations. " He 
might think himself a genius," says one of his biographers ; 
" but it was not to be expected that his own relations should 
yet think him one." Macknight, referring to his position 
and influence in Lord Rockingham's administration, remarks 
that it is, after all, a man's own relatives who generally look 
with the least confidence on his long wrestle with adversity, 
and are most astonished when the tide turns, and a great 
victory succeeds to what had seemed to them a mere hope- 
less toil. " To some of the Irish Nagles on the Blackwater," 
he says, "the news that Edmund had been taken into the 
confidence of the great Whig, Lord Rockingham, must have 
seemed as extraordinary as it did to Joseph's brethren that 
he should have become so great a man in hostile Egypt." 
Then, too, there was Jean Bodin, neglected and slighted in 
his own land, yet at the same time exulting in the welcome 
accorded to his books in the English universities, which 
printed as well as prized them. Surely no young man, 
though slighted at home, need despair on that account, or 
even despond : it is a road that has been often travelled, 
and by illustrious spirits too. Let one learn in patience to 
work and wait, and calmly bide his time. It is a long lane 
that has no turn. 

Above all, whatever happens, avoid precipitation. Any- 
thing but rashness; it is not only unwise, but often posi- 
tively calamitous. In one of the wars between France and 
England, two English frigates approached each other in the 
darkness, and each supposing the other to be an enemy, 
opened broadsides, when, after a most terrific encounter, as 
the darkness lifted and the dawn appeared, what was their 
consternation and amazement to discover that both were 
flying the English flag ! Filled with grief and regret, the 
cannonading ceased, and mournfully they saluted each other. 

"WAIT!" 253 

Equally disastrous have been many of the misunderstand- 
ings among men. Many a man has jeopardized if not mined 
his prospects in life by his rashness, and bartered away his 
success for the sake of gratifying a momentary ebullition of 
wrath or ill-feeling. If a man has inherited a quick temper, 
which by the way is often found along with some of the 
finest qualities, let him mount guard over himself, and wait, 
holding himself in check until, in coolness and candour, he 
can survey the whole field ; and, rest assured, he will save 
himself many an after regret. A man never gains but 
always loses by heat. Moreover, many a misunderstanding 
may be easily corrected if rash words have not entered as 
unmanageable factors into the affair. To be silent even 
when one is conscious of being in the right is heroic, and in 
any event waiting can do no harm. "He that is slow to 
anger is better than the mighty ; and he that ruleth his 
spirit, than he that taketh a city." Nothing was ever truer 
than that. Jacox, in his entertaining manner, calls atten- 
tion to the fact that Sir Thomas Fowell Buxton's secretary, 
Mr. Nixon, on his own showing, could not refrain from 
blurting out just what he felt at the moment, when differ- 
ences arose between the two. This used to vex Sir Thomas, 
who, however, would say nothing till the next day; and 
then, when the secretary thought that the whole matter had 
passed off, having perhaps received great kindness in the 
meantime, the remonstrance would come out, " What a silly 
fellow you were, Nixon, to put yourself in such a passion 
yesterday ! If I had spoken then, we should most probably 
have parted. Make it a rule never to speak when you are 
in a passion, but wait till the next day." "We are further 
assured that if at any time Sir Thomas did happen to trans- 
gress this rule himself, he was seriously vexed and grieved, 
and could not rest till he had in some way made amends for 
his want of self-restraint. 

It is exceedingly interesting, and not without encourage- 

254 "WAIT!" 

ment, to note in this connection how many world-famous 
ones, who have had to struggle with this infirmity of temper, 
have at length made an almost entire conquest of themselves 
in this regard. Rudolf of Hapsburg, for instance, we are 
assured, was by nature warm and choleric, but as he ad- 
vanced in years he corrected this defect. Upon some of his 
friends expressing their wonder that since his elevation to 
the imperial dignity he had restrained the vehemence of 
his temper, the founder of the House of Austria replied, 
" I have often repented of being passionate, never of being 
mild and humane." Of the sweet-mannered and well-nigh 
imperturbable Frederick Borromeo, Manzoni tells us that 
the admirable placability for which he was famous was not 
natural to the devout prelate, but was the result of con- 
tinual combat against a quick and hasty disposition. Lord 
Macaulay, as Jacox shows, turns to the advantage of his 
favourite Chancellor the assertion of his detractors, that the 
disposition of the great Somers was very far from being so 
gentle as the world believed ; that he was really prone to 
the angry passions ; and that sometimes, while his voice was 
soft and his words kind and courteous, his delicate frame 
was almost convulsed by suppressed emotion. " His brilliant 
advocate is fain to accept this reproach as the highest of all 
eulogies." Then, too, there was Sir Robert Peel. If we are 
to believe Sir Archibald Alison, Peel was by nature afflicted 
with a most violent temper. By degrees, however, he ob- 
tained the mastery of this infirmity, and this at length so 
effectually that he passed with the world at a distance as a 
man of a singularly cold and phlegmatic temperament. 

Lady Holland has given us a passing glimpse, yet full of 
interest in this direction, of her distinguished father, the 
Rev. Sydney Smith. She prefaces her statement that her 
father was naturally choleric, by the reflection that although 
it is not the part of a daughter to reveal faults, yet a fault 
nobly repaired or repented of adds to the respect and interest 

"WAIT/" 255 

which a character inspires. It seems that the famous 
clergyman, though by nature thus quick and hasty, always 
struggled against the failing, and " made many regulations 
to avoid exciting any such emotion. When he did give 
way, one could not but be filled with admiration to see 
him gradually subduing his chafed spirit, and to observe 
his dissatisfaction with himself till he had humbled himself 
and made his peace it mattered not with whom, groom or 
child. He could not bear the reproaches of his own heart." 
In the journal and letters, too, of Dr. Chalmers one often 
finds the good man taking himself to task for infirmities of 
temper, and striving with unflinching resolution to keep 
down every tendency to irritation. How one entry after 
another betrays the persistent struggle going on, as for 
instance : " Try to maintain a vigorous contest with this 
unfortunate peculiarity of my temper;" "to school down 
every irritable feeling." How remorsefully he records such 
instances as getting " into a violent passion with Sandy," 
and the like. And again : " Erred in betraying my anger to 
my servant and wife." Surely the world knows not always, 
indeed seldom imagines, the struggles within or the heroic 
discipline which at length confers upon a man that greatest 
of all triumphs, the mastery of himself. Above all things, 
never allow yourself to despatch an angry letter. A hasty 
word may be overlooked or forgotten, but litera scripta manet. 
In this direction, then, if a man would be master of the 
situation, and is aiming at success, let him learn to wait. 

It is indeed true that hope may be deferred, making the 
heart sick ; but let one not forget that " when the desire 
cometh, it is a tree of life." Hawthorne declared that before 
he became famous, during those long years of waiting for 
recognition, he had supposed himself familiar with every 
emotion possible to the human heart ; but he frankly con- 
fessed that when fame came to him, and recognition, it was 
an experience wholly new. At the time the " Scarlet 

256 " WAIT!" 

Letter" was passing through the press, Whipple tells us 
that he was permitted to read the proof-sheets. The circum- 
stances, he further says, under which the work was published 
were very depressing to its author. He had been dismissed 
from his position in the Custom House. Then, too, he had 
failed so often in obtaining any large popular recognition of 
his peculiar powers, that he believed the " Scarlet Letter " 
would share the fate of the " Twice Told Tales." It was 
therefore " well that two young men, himself and Fields the 
publisher, who were enthusiastic admirers of his genius, 
should break in upon his solitude that summer afternoon 
and rouse him from his despondency. Mrs. Hawthorne, the 
very impersonation of hope and cheer, joined heartily in the 
attempt to make the great romancer feel that he had pro- 
duced a work which would not only make a deep and imme- 
diate impression on the public mind, but live as long as 
American literature existed." " His grand face and brow 
gradually lighted up," says Whipple, " as he caught a little 
of the contagion of our enthusiasm, and we left him some- 
what cheered as to the prospects of his book." 

Never allow yourself " for one repulse to forego the pur- 
pose you resolved to effect." The annals of literature are 
full of instances of those who, feeling the consciousness 
within that they had something to say which the world ought 
to hear, have persistently toiled and waited, in spite of the 
fact that editors and publishers had failed to recognize their 
right to be heard, until at length they compelled recognition. 
The company of literary prophets and martyrs who have 
passed through this ordeal is very great. There was Brins- 
ley Sheridan, in Orchard Street, Portman Square, diligently 
working away, and producing essays, pamphlets, and farces, 
many of which never saw the light, while others fell flat, or 
failed to bring him any fame. Indeed, as some one asks, 
what great authors have not experienced the same disap- 
pointments? What men would ever be great if they 

"WAIT!" 257 

allowed such checks to damp their energy, or were turned 
back by them from the course in which they feel that their 
power lies ? 

Nothing is more remarkable than the vicissitudes which 
have befallen certain world-famous authors and their equally 
famous books. It is well known that many have waited 
long for recognition, and mourned bitterly at the rejection 
of their manuscripts. Even Thackeray's " Vanity Fair " 
was refused by a dozen publishers when offered in manu- 
script. Yet when " Vanity Fair " once appeared, its recep- 
tion was immediate, and success was won. Charlotte Bronte 
wore out her patience and her hope in offering "Jane 
Eyre," in many respects the greatest novel ever written ; 
and the author of " Eothen " had a weary time of it, trudg- 
ing from publisher to publisher to get it into print. Yet 
this, as well as " Jane Eyre," when published took the world 
by storm. Even Murray, we are told, one of the princes 
among publishers, failed to discover the merits of Motley's 
" Rise of the Dutch Republic." Carlyle, it is said, was mor- 
tified by Jeffrey's sending back to him articles as unfit for 
the Edinburgh Review. Even Macaulay suffered a similar 
rebuff, through the petty jealousy, as he thought, of Lord 
Brougham. Scott and Disraeli retained in their desks 
manuscripts which no publisher would accept until their 
names had become famous. One of the most popular novels 
of the present day went from one publisher to another, and 
was at last accepted by Carleton, who made it a great success. 
Irving tells us that Murray declined the " Sketch Book," 
which was published by Millar. The latter failed, however, 
and then Murray was glad to take the " Sketch Book " and 
all of Irving's subsequent productions. Now, let us ask, 
was the waiting of these men a vain thing ? 

It is always interesting to know what estimate men who 
have attained fame in intellectual pursuits put upon their 
own powers, and to compare this with the estimate of others 

(79) 17 

258 "WAIT!" 

who have had good opportunities of observing them. In 
early life, Webster, it seems, took a very modest view of his 
abilities and his prospects of professional success. His am- 
bition was never fully aroused till Governor Gore advised 
him to refuse the clerkship. " In his letters to his friends 
written before this, he often spoke timidly, and sometimes 
disparagingly, of his legal attainments and prospects. He 
once spoke of a young lawyer who had not had a brilliant 
success, but whose degree of prosperity would amply satisfy 
his own ambition. That he was conscious, however, of the 
latent powers within him is seen by his writing for the 
papers in college, and delivering a Fourth-of-July oration 
during his college term. He never shrank, moreover, even 
at that early age, from any responsibility that was laid upon 
him ; and whatever he undertook he did well." 

What, indeed, is more noticeable than this consciousness 
of the possession of great powers in those destined to distinc- 
tion? "We judge ourselves," says Longfellow, "by what 
we feel capable of doing ; others judge us by what we have 
already done." The strong aspirant not only has the master 
in his eye, but the place of a master as well. This has had 
many an illustration. When young Angelo was in the 
school of Ghirlandajo, he was one day busily employed, 
when a stranger entered, and after carefully scrutinizing the 
work of the scholars, at length approached him. It was the 
great Lorenzo of the Garden of St. Mark. He spoke to the 
youth, examined his work, and then turning to Domenico, 
said, " By your leave, I select this youth for the Garden of 
St. Mark. Will it accord with his views?" "Ay," replied 
Ghirlandajo significantly ; "do you think the eagle does 
not ken his eyrie?" It is always thus. Like Pitt waiting 
for the Cabinet, and refusing all else with lofty scorn until 
his opportunity came, such seem to feel that they can bide 
their time, and while "it is not in mortals to command 
success," are apparently sustained by the lofty consciousness 

"WAIT!" 259 

that they deserve it. One sometimes marvels to note how 
often to such as these the prizes come. 

In these men, however, one may perceive a marvellous 
pertinacity which seems well-nigh omnipotent. In illustra- 
tion of this, take that well-known incident in the career of 
Brinsley Sheridan. As an incentive and an encouragement 
to young men it cannot be too often repeated. Sheridan's 
maiden speech in Parliament was delivered November 20, 
1780. The House listened to him with marked attention, 
but his appearance did not entirely satisfy the expectations 
of his friends. Woodfall, the reporter, used to relate, as 
Goodrich tells us, that Sheridan came up to him in the 
gallery when the speech was ended, and asked him with 
much anxiety what he thought of his first attempt. " I am 
sorry to say," replied Woodfall, " that I don't think this is 
your line. You had better have stuck to your former pur- 
suits." Sheridan rested his head on his hand for some 
minutes, and then exclaimed with vehemence, " It is in me, 
and it shall come out of me /" He now devoted himself 
with the utmost assiduity, quickened by a sense of shame, 
to the cultivation of his powers as a speaker, and on the 
17th of February 1787 made that famous speech against 
Warren Hastings so astonishing for its eloquence that at 
the conclusion the whole assembly broke forth into expres- 
sions of tumultuous applause. A motion was made to 
adjourn, that the House might have time to recover their 
calmness. Twenty years after, Mr. Fox and Mr. Windham, 
two of the severest judges in England, spoke of this speech 
with undiminished admiration. The former declared it to 
be the best speech ever made in the House of Commons. 
The latter said that the speech deserved all its fame, and 
was, in spite of some faults of taste, the greatest that had 
been delivered within the memory of man. Brinsley Sheri- 
dan had waited to some purpose. 

Thus many a one, wayworn and weary though he may 

260 "WAIT!" 

often have been, on the pathway to the great achievement 
whose purpose thrilled his earliest opening life, has found 
that the waiting paid. 

" Who ne'er his bread in sorrow ate, 

Who ne'er the mournful midnight hours 
Weeping upon his bed has sate, 
He knows you not, ye heavenly powers." 

Richter suggests as an excellent antidote against moral 
depression the calling up in our darkest moments the mem- 
ory of our brightest. At all events refuse to be unhappy. 
Remember Charles Kingsley's favourite motto, "Be strong!" 

' ' So many great 

Illustrious spirits have conversed with woe, 
Have in her school been taught, as are enough 
To consecrate distress, and make ambition 
Even wish the frown beyond the smile of fortune." 


" Opportunity is the command of God." 

There is a tide in the affairs of men, 

Which, taken at the flood, leads on to fortune ; 

And we must take the current when it serves, 
Or lose our ventures. SHAKESPEARE. 

" The mill can never grind with the water which has passed." 

A SCULPTOR once showed a visitor his studio. It was almost 
full of gods. One was very curious : the face was concealed 
by being covered with hair, and there were wings to each foot. 
"What is its name 1 ?" said the spectator. "Opportunity," 
was the reply. " Why is its face hidden?" " Because men 
seldom know him when he comes to them." " Why has he 
wings on his feet 1 ?" "Because he is soon gone, and once 
gone, cannot be overtaken." Let it never be forgotten that 
in reckoning on success one must take into account that all- 
important factor, opportunity, after all ; for it is an undeni- 
able fact that this forms at least the two sides of the ladder 
on which men mount. With all his power and genius, a man 
must remain unknown unless opportunity shall open the 
way for the display of his gifts. For, as Pliny says, "no 
man possesses a genius so commanding that he can attain 
eminence, unless a subject suited to his talents should present 
itself, and an opportunity occur for their development." 
But many a man has made a failure of life by neglecting 


or frittering away his opportunity when it was full upon him. 
As -one looks over the lives of men he has known, as the 
melancholy spectacle of broken careers and wasted lives 
comes before him, Whittier's words but too truly express 
the dreary truth, 

" Of all sad words of tongue or pen, 
The saddest are these : It might have been ! " 

Let a young man " lay the flattering unction to his soul " 
that because he has, forsooth, achieved a diploma, the greater 
part of the battle of life has been fought, and henceforth he 
can take things easy, and from that hour he is destined to 
make rapid strides on the road to failure. Once let the 
"dry -rot" enter, and what could be worse? A graduate 
has but learned the use of weapons, if indeed even this has 
been fully learned. The world's work lies all before him, 
and its demands will call for the strenuous use of all his 
powers. " The time comes to the young surgeon," observes 
Arnold, " when after long waiting, and patient study and 
experiment, he is suddenly confronted with his first critical 
operation. The great surgeon is away. Time is pressing. 
Life and death hang in the balance. Is he equal to the 
emergency ? Can he fill the great surgeon's place, and do his 
work ? If he can, he is the one of all others who is wanted. 
His opportunity confronts him. He and it are face to face. 
Shall he confess his ignorance and inability, or step into fame 
and fortune at once ? It is for him to say. " 

In a world of such incessant changes, opportunities for rising 
are not so rare, after all. Vacancies are constantly occurring 
in positions of trust, honour, and profit. There is room for 
numberless promotions every year. " The everlasting swing- 
ing of the scythe of death is clearing the ranks for eager 
aspirants." "There are moments," says Dean Alford, 
" which are worth more than years. We cannot help it 
There is no proportion between spaces of time in importance 


nor in value. A stray, unthougkt-of five minutes may con- 
tain the event of a life. And this all-important moment, 
who can tell when it will be upon us ? " It really seems, as 
some one says, as if our fortunes met us in the dark. The 
single hours and acts that like rudders steer us into wide seas 
of triumph or misfortune, how significant they are ! Some 
one has well said that there is no view of life so inspiring as 
that which contemplates it as a constant preparation for im- 
portant, unforeseen emergencies. What a man already is, we 
are told, generally determines his use or neglect of a grand 
opportunity. In England, as every one knows, it is not very 
difficult for a man of high birth, influential position, and 
liberal culture, to obtain a seat in Parliament. Hundreds 
of such men never once get the ear of the House. They are 
coughed down or laughed down on their first attempt, and 
they never repeat it. Pitt's triumph on the occasion of that 
first speech of his in the House of Commons was no accident. 
It was the well-earned reward of many years of laborious 
and complete preparation. A legislative debate, a diplomatic 
crisis, a battle, or many an occasion far less conspicuous, may 
in a single hour task to the utmost and crown with imperish- 
able glory the preparation of a lifetime. Trafalgar was 
Nelson's opportunity ; and his exclamation, " Westminster 
Abbey, or the peerage ! " on the eve of that memorable 
engagement, reveals the man. Rear- Admiral Hamilton, of 
the British Navy, in his volume, " Naval Operations during 
the Civil War in the United States," referring to the prompt 
action of Farragut in ordering the fleet to move on despite 
the torpedoes that had just sunk the " Tecumseh " in Mobile 
Bay, remarks : " It appears to me that a disastrous defeat 
was converted into victory by (in so unexpected a contingency) 
the quickness of eye and power of rapid decision Farragut 
possessed, which saw at a glance the only escape from the 
dilemma the fleet was placed in, and which can only be 
acquired by a thorough practical knowledge in the manage- 


ment of fleets, and for want of which no amount of theoretical 
knowledge, however desirable in many respects, can make up 
in the moment of difficulty." This " quickness of eye," which 
sees at a glance one's opportunity, marks a striking difference 
in men. Some men seem neither to see nor know their oppor- 
tunity when it comes. Everything appears to them to Avear 
the air of commonplace. They are like Wordsworth's Peter 
Bell : 

" A primrose by a river's brim 

A yellow primrose was to him, 

And it was nothing more." 

A vastly entertaining chapter might be written showing 
the curious ways in which one's opportunity comes to him. 
Take that case of Gavarni, for instance. His real name was 
Chevalier. He was the son of poor parents, and began life 
as a mechanic. Finding that a successful artisan should 
possess some knowledge of drawing, Chevalier went during 
his hours of leisure to an evening school where free instruc- 
tion was given to mechanics. The beginning of his work as 
a caricaturist, we are told, was the result of a chance con- 
versation on the insipidity of the faces in a fashion plate. 
He drew a picture as he thought it ought to be, and sent 
it to the publishers, signed "Gavarni," the name of a 
little hamlet in the Pyrenees where he had picnicked pleas- 
antly. The deed was done, the sketch despatched and 
accepted, and Gavarni became so decidedly the fashion that 
he gave up his work as a surveyor and devoted himself to his 
pencil. Adah Isaacs Menken found her opportunity in 
" Mazeppa; " and many a similar instance doubtless might be 

" 'Tis Fortune's trick to muffle up her gifts in dusky hulls, 

That when they throw their mantles off, 

Surprise may richness overdouble." 

" Nature creates merit, and fortune brings it into play," 
was an observation of La Rochefoucauld; and one sees it 


verified every day. In what men regard as mere chance 
work there is often order and design. " What we call a 
turning-point," says Arnold, "is simply an occasion which 
sums up and brings to a result previous training. Accidental 
circumstances are nothing except to men who have been 
trained to take advantage of them." And he cites the 
familiar instance of Erskine making himself famous when 
the chance came to him of making a great forensic display, 
justly adding that unless he had trained himself for the 
chance, the chance would only have made him ridiculous. 
A great occasion is worth to a man exactly what his ante- 
cedents have enabled him to make of it. "Every man, 
sooner or later, is called upon to pass, so to speak, his cross- 
examination. This it is which will thoroughly test what is 
in him. The daily duties of his profession, the possible great 
opportunities, the judgment-days, the crises of our lives." 
And it has been truly said that it is only as one fulfils the 
duties and bears successfully the tests of everyday life that 
he will be ready for the great requirements, the great oppor- 
tunities, the supreme test-days that may come. It is un- 
deniably true that greatness seems to come to some men as 
by a kind of destiny. " Probably they lack none of the 
native elements of character that are the prerequisites for 
future achievement, and the opportunities for their develop- 
ment are not wanting. At some other times, not very remote 
from their own, they might have lived and died in obscurity ; 
but it falls to their lot to be at the head of affairs at some 
momentous period of a country's history, and to conduct a 
nation through progressive revolutions in rapid series to a 
greatness of which few but themselves ever dreamed as 
among things possible, and in this same process to become 
themselves the most conspicuous figures of their age." Yet 
the fact remains that the great mass of events with which 
men have to do are simply opportunities that may be used 
or neglected. From time to time we are called to confront 


great emergencies which are "neither resistless engines to 
crush us, nor machines which we have framed to work out 
our fortunes, but hinges of destiny turning either way, as we 
choose. When we least expect it, we come to a fork in the 
road : here lies the unfrequented way to the mountain peaks 
of distinction ; there, to the dead level of obscurity and the 
morass of failure. Some men have a way of always taking 
the mountain path." The way in which her opportunity 
came to Pauline Lucca is full of interest, and reminds one 
of a somewhat similar incident in the career of Charlotte 
Cushman. Her high musical gifts showed themselves early. 
When a mere child she sang in the choir of the Karlskirche, 
in 1856. One Sunday the principal soloist was missing, and 
the young chorus-singer, put forward to supply her place in 
the solo of a mass of Mozart's, revealed a beauty of voice and 
charm of style that startled all who heard it. She studied 
under Uschmann and Levy, and her parents being in strait- 
ened circumstances, she entered the chorus of the opera at 
Vienna, but left in 1859 to come out at Olmiitz. Just before 
leaving, it fell to her to lead the bridesmaids' chorus in the 
" Freischiitz," her performance creating a sensation that 
made Vienna eager to retain her ; but it was too late. On 
the 4th of September 1859 she made her debut in Olmiitz 
as Elvira in " Ernani," and became a favourite at once. 

To glance from art to trade, it was in a very simple circum- 
stance that the greatest button-manufacturer in the United 
States found his opportunity. He had purchased, it seems, 
some cloth for a coat, and his wife was to make it up. He 
bought among other trimmings some lasting buttons, and 
paid a certain price for them, say seventy-five cents a 
dozen. His wife asked him what he paid for them, and he 
told her. "Why," said she, "that is a large price; with 
button-moulds and a little lasting I could make these buttons 
for a quarter of that price. If you will take these back and 
get some button-moulds I will show you." He did so, and 


the buttons she made were to all appearance as good as those 
bought at the store. That led to the idea of his making 
buttons to sell He began by employing a few girls, and 
carrying his buttons to the country stores and selling them. 
He found it a profitable enterprise. The business grew. 
He afterwards employed machinery, and made an immense 

It is very interesting, as Arnold observes, to read of a 
great advocate awaiting patiently his chance. " It comes at 
last, and with the thought of wife and children tugging at 
his robe, and urging him for their sakes to do his best, the 
full, brilliant speech is made." Or it may be the famous 
argument of plain John Scott, afterwards Lord Eldon, in 
the leading case of Akroyd v. Smithson. An opportunity at 
length occurred which enabled John Scott to exhibit the large 
legal knowledge which he had so laboriously acquired. In a 
case in which he was employed he urged a legal point against 
the wishes both of the attorney and the client who employed 
him. The Master of the Rolls decided against him, but on 
an appeal to the House of Lords, Lord Thurlow reversed the 
decision on the very point that Scott had urged. On leaving 
the House that day an attorney tapped him on the shoulder 
and whispered the homely but heart-cheering words, " Young 
man, your bread and butter is cut for life." And indeed the 
young man had started "straight and fair for the Great 
Seal." Smiles tells us that Lord Mansfield used to say he 
knew no interval between no biisiiiess and three thousand 
pounds a year ; and Scott, he adds, might have told the same 
story, for so rapid was his progress that in 1783, when only 
thirty-two, he was appointed King's Counsel, was at the head 
of the Northern Circuit, and sat in Parliament for the 
borough of Weobley. 

Such incidents, as has been said, do not happen so very 
infrequently after all. The man and the hour approach. 
The man is equal to the occasion; but often, perhaps oftener, 


the man is unequal to it. What would have been the use of 
the chance coming to men who were unequal to the chance 1 
There are lawyers who if such a chance came to them would 
simply have to sit down, and truly enough tell the presiding 
judge that they could not get on without their leader. One 
must have had long training before he can skilfully avail him- 
self of any sort of emergency. It is undeniably true that one 
may so prepare for a crisis that when it comes it shall be 
determined beforehand in the foreseen direction. As the 
lumberman when about to hew a giant of the forest, though 
powerless to move it with unaided strength, may by his rope 
still guide and determine the direction of its fall and the 
position it shall occupy, so in a certain sense a man may, so 
to speak, go into training for a crisis ere it come. "It matters 
not," says Foss, " what sea a ship is to sail : its keel must be 
securely laid, its masts firmly set, its rigging of the toughest 
fibre, in order to sail any sea in safety. One hour's tussle 
with the tempest will test the fibre of its timbers which were 
toughened by a hundred years' wrestle with Norwegian blasts. 
The student whose special work in life is yet unchosen should 
be made to feel that in some work he will have need of the 
completest possible discipline of all his powers, and the largest 
attainable acquirements. Now is the time to get ready. 
When the storm bursts there will be no time to set the 
masts or hang the rudder. Opportunities are sure to come 
which we shall most earnestly wish to employ to the utmost. 
Our actual use of them, however, will depend not on what 
we wish, but on what we are." 

While the whole country was resounding with the praises 
of his reply to Hayne, Mr. Webster seemed almost unmoved 
by them, and to be scarcely conscious of the great forensic 
victory he had achieved. In reply to a letter congratulating 
him, he wrote as follows on the 8th of March 1830: "I 
thank you for your friendly and flattering letter. Your 
commendation of my speech was measured less by its merits 


than by your bounty. If it has gratified my friends at 
home, 1 am rewarded for any little trouble it has cost me. 
The whole debate was a matter of accident. I had left the 
court pretty late in the day, and went into the Senate 
with my court papers under my arm, just to see what was 
passing. It so happened that Mr. Hayne rose in his first 
speech. I did not like it, and my friends liked it less. I 
never spoke in the presence of an audience so eager and so 

However useless it may appear to you at the moment, 
seize upon all that is fairly within your reach ; for there is 
not a fact within the whole circle of human observation, 
" nor even a fugitive anecdote that you read in a newspaper 
or hear in conversation, that will not come into play some 
time or other ; and occasions will arise when they involun- 
tarily present their dim shadows in the train of your thinking 
and reasoning as belonging to that train, and you will regret 
that you cannot recall them more distinctly." How strange 
is that law of the mind by which an idea, long overlooked 
and trodden under foot as a useless stone, suddenly sparkles 
out in a new light as a discovered diamond ! One thing is 
certain : unless one is thus prompt to seize and fix the fact 
or incident which interests him as he comes upon it in his 
reading, or to look up, from time to time, points suggested, 
he will have occasion again and again to regret it. Who 
cannot bear witness to this, as he has sat trying vainly to 
recall some fact or illustration which now looms before his 
recollection dim and nebulous and undefined, which he feels 
sure is just what he wants, but cannot get? The tendency 
of human nature is to inertia. One hates to be disturbed or 
interrupted. He will go on with his reading to-day, and make 
the note to-morrow. He discovers his mistake, and repents 
too late, when the illusive thought evades and defies his 
capture. The same is true of the fleeting impulse to clear 
up a doubtful point or to add to one's stock of information. 


Wirt hits it exactly when he says, " Seize the moment of 
excited curiosity on any subject to solve your doubts ; for if 
you let it pass, the desire may never return, and you may 
remain in ignorance." 

A well-known journalist recently advised all boys and 
girls to begin at once keeping a scrap-book, in which they 
should set down descriptions of any noteworthy place or 
scene which comes in their way; also accounts of any re- 
markable person whom they meet, with their photograph, 
and any personal details. " In thirty years," he says, " such 
a book will be invaluable to the owner, especially if he be 
a journalist or literary man." The most trifling details, it 
has been observed, in such a book as Pepys' Diary, or the 
Memoirs of Madame de Remusat, are read now with keen 
interest, as they make flesh and blood of historical characters 
who otherwise would be but shadows to us. 

It may seem trivial, but it is a suggestion of no less a 
personage than the late Bishop of Oxford, that if in the 
course of your writing a good thought or illustration comes 
into your mind which will come in well in some other part 
of your discourse, for instance, do not think you will cer- 
tainly remember it; stop and write it down at once, and 
when you come to that part where you need it, work it in. 
" Some years ago, if not now," says a visitor, " the studio 
of Story, at Rome, presented the following appearance 
around the walls were shelves filled with small clay models, 
single figures and groups. The sculptor explained that 
often as he worked some splendid subject for a marble 
figure or group would suggest itself. There was little or 
no use in trying to remember it ; so he would at once turn 
aside from the work in hand and put his idea into a model, 
small indeed and hastily shaped, but he had all that he then 
needed namely, the conception. At any time it could be 
worked up." 

Lord Oxford's maid-servant relates that in the dreadful 


winter of 1740 she was called from her bed four times in 
one night to supply him with paper lest he should lose a 
thought ; and it is told of Bossuet, that if while he was in 
bed his sleep was delayed or interrupted, he used to avail 
himself of it to commit to paper any interesting thought 
which occurred to him. Eginhard, his secretary, tells us of 
Charlemagne that he had always pen, ink, and parchment 
beside his pillow, for the purpose of noting down any 
thoughts that might occur to him during the night; and 
lest upon waking he should find himself in darkness, a part 
of the wall within reach from the bed was prepared like the 
leaf of a tablet, with wax, on which he might indent his 
memoranda with a stylus. In like manner, we are told of 
that indefatigable pursuer of literature, Margaret, Duchess 
of Newcastle, that some of her young ladies always slept 
within call, ready to rise at any hour of the night and take 
down her thoughts, lest she should forget them before 

Many an immortal production, as every one knows, has 
emanated from prison and the dungeon. Not to mention 
the familiar instance of the famous allegory written in 
Bedford Jail, we find that one of the best poems which 
British poetry can boast between the death of Chaucer and 
the accession of Henry VIII. was penned by James I. while 
a captive in Windsor Castle. The same is true of some of 
the most pleasing of Lord Surrey's poems and Sir Walter 
Raleigh's " History of the World ; " and the list might be 
greatly extended. Many, too, have been the works pro- 
duced while their authors were in exile. It was in exile 
that Thucydides composed his " History of the Peloponne- 
sian War," and Xenophon his Anabasis. That sleep should 
possess creativ? power is remarkable ; and yet Burns tells 
us that he dreamed one of his poems, and that he wrote it 
down just as he dreamed it. Voltaire informed one of his 
friends that the whole of the second canto of the " Henriade" 


was composed by him in his sleep. Coleridge always said 
that he dreamed "Kubla Khan;" and if one may rely upon 
internal evidence, it can hardly be doubted. Campbell de- 
clared that he was indebted to the same source for the best 
line in " Lochiel's Warning. " It seems he was visiting at 
Minto, and one evening went to bed early, his thoughts full 
of a new poem. About two in the morning he suddenly 
awoke, repeating, 

" Events to come cast their shadows before." 

Ringing the bell sharply, a servant obeyed the summons, to 
find the summoner with one foot in bed and one on the 
floor. "Are you ill, sir?" inquired he. "111!" cried 
Campbell; "never better in my life. Leave me the candle, 
and oblige me with a cup of tea." Seizing his pen, he 
promptly set down the happy thought, changing " events to 
come" into "coming events," and over the non-inebriating 
cup completed the first draught of " Lochiel's Warning." 

Hardly anything is more remarkable than those instances 
in which the soul, as if by instinct, seems to recognize its 
opportunity for relieving itself of a great burden, or of the 
anguish which perchance has long been tugging at the heart. 
How little the public realize, at times, when thrilled by the 
sudden burst of eloquence or song, that some secret anguish 
is voicing itself, or that the burdened soul, after long neglect 
and seemingly hopeless struggle, has suddenly been lifted by 
the spell of a great inspiration, born of the memory of past 
defeat, into such marvellous achievement as compels the 
long-delayed recognition and conquers its place ! Many a 
recognition, doubtless, has come thus on the wings of this 
cry of the soul. How many, think you, comprehended fully 
all that went to make up Rachel's "Helas"? In the 
" Marble Faun," Hawthorne makes Miriam, the broken- 
hearted singer in the midnight song that went up from the 
Roman Coliseum, put into the melody the pent-up shriek 


that her anguish had almost given vent to a moment before. 
"That volume of melodious voice was one of the tokens of a 
great trouble. The thunderous anthem gave her an oppor- 
tunity to relieve her heart by a great cry." 

It is also one of the characteristics of greatness to hide 
itself, and take refuge in commonplaces until its opportunity 
comes. Moreover, this opportunity which the soul some- 
times finds for the utterance of its great secrets when sur- 
rounded by the multitude gives occasion for revelations 
often very beautiful. " I have known shy, reserved men," 
says Phillips Brooks, "who, standing in their pulpits, have 
drawn back before a thousand eyes veils that were sacredly 
closed when only one friend's eyes could see. You might 
talk with them a hundred times, and you would not learn 
so much of what they were as if you once heard them preach. 
It was partly the impersonality of the great congregation. 
Humanity, without the offence of individuality, stood there 
before them. It was no violation of their loyalty to them- 
selves to tell their secret to mankind. It was a man who 
silenced them. But also, besides this, it was, I think, that 
the sight of many waiting faces set free in them a new, clear 
knowledge of what their truth or secret was, unsnarled it 
from the petty circumstances into which it had been en- 
tangled, called it first into clear consciousness, and then 
tempted it into utterance with an authority which they did 
not recognize in an individual curiosity demanding the details 
of their life. Our race, represented in a great assembly, has 
more authority and more beguilement for many of us than 
the single man, however near he be. And he who is silent 
before the interviewer pours out the very depths of his soul 
to the great multitude." 

The same is doubtless more or less true in literature. 

How unmistakably behind the thin veil of " Copperfield," 

for instance, one discerns the personality of Dickens as he 

by a thousand delicate touches reveals to us the story of his 

(79) 18 


life ! And can any one doubt that the gentle soul of Irving 
is embalmed within his serene and sunny pages'? In Good- 
rich's account of Webster's defence of his Alma Mater, he 
tells us that after closing his masterly argument, Mr. Web- 
ster stood for some moments before the court, while every 
eye was fixed intently upon him. At length, addressing 
the Chief-Justice, after a brief reference to the far-reaching 
influence of an adverse decision as affecting every college in 
the land, he continued: "It is, sir, as I have said, a small 
college, and yet there are those Avho love it " Here the 
feelings which he had thus far succeeded in keeping down 
broke forth. His lips quivered ; his firm cheeks trembled 
with emotion; his eyes were filled with tears; his voice 
choked, and he seemed struggling to the utmost simply to 
gain that mastery over himself which might save him from 
an unmanly burst of feeling. " I will not attempt to give 
yu," says Goodrich, " the few broken words of tenderness 
in which he went on to speak of his attachment to the col- 
lege. TJie whole seemed to be mingled throughout with recollec- 
tions of father, mother, brother, and all the privations and 
trials through which he had made his way into life. Every 
one saw that it was wholly unpremeditated a pressure on 
his heart which sought relief in tears. Having recovered 
his composure, after a few intense, concluding words, he sat 
down. There was a death-like stillness throughout the room 
for some moments. Every one seemed to be slowly recovering 
himself, and coming gradually back to his ordinary range of 
thought and feeling." 

In closing this chapter, too great stress cannot possibly be 
laid upon the importance of being ready when one's oppor- 
tunity comes. There was just one fleeting moment on which 
hung the fate of England's early king, imprisoned in his 
dungeon, while the faithful Blondel, harp in hand, awaited 
his response without. Had it passed unfruitful, the fate of 
the king had been sealed. Some one has well said that 


lost opportunities are so many funerals. The golden oppor- 

' ' Is never offered twice ; seize then the hour 

When fortune smiles, and duty points the way : 

Nor shrink aside to 'scape the spectre fear ; 

Nor pause, though pleasure beckon from her bower ; 

But bravely bear thee onward to the goal." 

When once the chase is " in " and hounds are loosed, when 
once you realize that the great moment is full upon you 
that one vital hour, the lord of time, on which all other 
hours have waited let nothing divert you from your aim 
until your point is gained. Carry it by storm, even if it 
task you sorely and demand the acquired strength of years. 
If it take all there is of you, carry it. There will be 
enough of the uneventful, enough of monotony and common- 
place coming after, to afford ample leisure for rest and 
recuperation when the crisis shall have been safely passed. 

" A thousand years a poor man watched 

Before the gate of Paradise ; 
But while one little nap he snatched, 
It oped and shut. Ah ! was he wise ? " 

Above all things, let there be preparation. "Get thy 
spindle and distaff ready, and God will send thee flax." 
Thus one waits calmly, as one refreshed with slumber and 
awake betimes awaits the sure approach of day. No thought 
is so inspiring to a man as to feel that possibly just before 
him, in the dim and unforeseen to-morrow, lies his great 
opportunity awaiting him. Nothing could be more sublime. 
Did you ever note the coming of the dawn? From the time 
when first " the casement grows a glimmering square " to the 
full tide of the morning's glory, the gradual approach of light 
is wondrously beautiful. Up from the eastern horizon steals 
at first a faint glimmer ; sudden breezes stir the rustling 
leaves; clouds and the night-rack go scudding, like fugitives, 


athwart the sky; the birds are astir; and ere you have 
noted the thousand indefinable influences which come to you, 
already broad streaks of light are growing apace in the 
heavens. The gradually glowing east is seized with sudden 
tremulousness, and you feel instinctively that something is 
impending ; the trees sway more perceptibly in the breeze ; 
flashes of red shoot up towards the zenith ; and now, above 
the dark rim bounding the horizon, the grand old sun uplifts 
himself, rears upward on his mighty shoulders the ponderous, 
dreary burden of the dark, kisses the hills into sudden glory, 
and day is born ! So, if you are ready and waiting, out 
from the darkness and gloom of adverse circumstances shall 
come the dawn of opportunity and the day's risen splendour 
of triumph and success. 



" It is no task for suns to shine." 

From my youth upward 
My spirit walked not with the souls of men, 
Nor looked upon the earth with human eyes ; 
The thirst of their ambition was not mine, 
The aim of their existence was not mine ; 
My joys, my griefs, my passions and my powers, 
Made me a stranger. BYRON. 

Genius is greater than man : 
Genius does what it must ; talent does what it can. 


IN reviewing the life and works of Edgar A. Poe, Lowell 
says of him : " He had that indescribable something which 
men have agreed to call genius. No man could ever tell us 
precisely what it is, and yet there is none who is not inevitably 
aware of its presence and its power. Let talent writhe and 
contort itself as it may, it has no such magnetism. Larger 
of bone and sinew it may be, but the wings are wanting. 
Talent sticks fast to earth, and its most perfect works 
have still one foot of clay. Genius claims kindred with the 
very workings of nature herself, so that a sunset shall seem 
like a quotation from Dante or Milton, and if Shakespeare 
be read in the very presence of the sea itself, his verses shall 
but seem nobler for the sublime criticism of ocean. Talent 
may make friends for itself, but only genius can give to its 
creations the divine power of winning love and veneration 

278 GENIUS. 

To the eye of genius the veil of the spiritual world is ever 
rent asunder, that it may perceive the ministers of good and 
evil who throng continually around it. No man of mere 
talent ever flung his inkstand at the devil" 

It is curious to note the attempts of men to define this 
subtile faculty. One has caught a certain fugitive phase of 
it and spoken of that ; another has given his impression from 
another point of view ; but few, if any, seem to have defined 
it fully. The artist catches the evanescent hue of emerald 
from the crested wave as it breaks upon the strand, and with 
rare skill fixes the sudden gleam for ever on his canvas ; but 
let one attempt to capture this, and reveal its secret, and it 
eludes him. The Greeks, as we know, gave it the name of 
demon, from their word signifying a spirit or immaterial 
being of an intermediate nature between the divine and the 
human. This being, they thought, hovered over them and 
suggested their finest thoughts. Socrates believed this. 

But let us note a few of these definitions. Sir Joshua 
Reynolds declared it to be "a power of producing excel- 
lences which are out of the reach of the rules of art, a 
power which no precepts can teach and which no industry 
can acquire." This is doubtless true. Something is "breathed 
into a man at his birth a divine fire, a gift of God." This 
makes great things possible to him which may be for ever 
denied to his brother in the next cradle. It is undeniably 
a gift, and usually where most manifest to the beholder, 
there is a most delightful unconsciousness on the part of its 
possessor. Like beauty and childhood, it is unconscious of 
self. " When a child enchants us by his innocent smile," 
some one has said, "he does not know that it is innocent; 
but does this detract from its charm?" In illustration of 
what we have said, could anything be more delightful and 
ingenuous than the remark made so naively by Jenny Liixd 
when at the zenith of her fame to one of her friends : " Isn't 
it beautiful that I can sine so 1 " " Some one once showed 

GENIUS. 279 

Corneille certain obscure verses of his own composition," says 
Legouve, "asking for an explanation. 'When I wrote 
them,' was his artless reply, 'I understood them perfectly, 
but now they are as vague to me as to you. You see that 
there are certain things in the works of the masters insol- 
uble even by themselves. In the fire of creation they instinct- 
ively use expressions which they do not realize, but which 
are none the less true.' " 

But the gift granted, fuel must be furnished ; and what 
more remarkable than the prodigious industry of our greatest 
men 1 ? One element, at least, seems absolutely essential 
namely, growth. " A man of genius," says Gilfillan, " is 
always a man of limitless growth, with a soul smitten with 
a passion for growth, and open to every influence which 
promotes it ; one who grows always like a tree, by day and 
by night, in calm and in storm, through opposition and 
tli rough applause, in difficulty and in despair. With the 
dying Schiller he can say, ' Many things are becoming plain 
and clear to me now.' " 

But to return to definitions. De Quincey declares genius 
to be mind steeped and saturated in the genial nature. 
Others have declared it to be impassioned truth, thought 
become phosphorescent ; while some have even defined it as 
simply great patience. Perseverance is genius, several have 
declared, whose position would seem to entitle them to a 
hearing. But this would appear to be manifestly inadequate, 
to say the least. This capacity for taking infinite pains, and 
of unwearying patience until its end is gained, seems indeed 
ever present where genius is found, but it is by no means the 
thing itself. Perhaps Owen Meredith hits nearest the mark, 
or at least as near as any broad generalization could be ex- 
pected to come, in the striking line : " Genius does what it 
must; talent does what it can." In its real essence it is 
doubtless "the unsearchable and .subtile result of a combi- 
nation of rare faculties with rare temperament." Where this 

280 GENIUS. 

combination is finest we have a Shakespeare or a Longfellow, 
a Rachel or a Gerster. 

One thing is certain : no law is competent to explain the 
miracle of the rise and action of these gifted souls. Moses 
is the divine lawgiver for all coming time. He appears 
among an enslaved and half-savage people. Praxiteles is 
still unsurpassed, Raphael still the inimitable, and Shake- 
speare remains for ever the universal, the " happy poet by no 
critics vexed." But whenever the great soul appears, men 
know it. Envy or hate may obscure it for a season with 
clouds of detraction ; it matters little. A man of real power 
is, like Homer's laughter of the gods, "inextinguishable." 
Moreover, the great always recognize one another. Genius 
has the fine and subtile power of reading between the lines. 
It is the single stroke of Apelles upon the panel of Protogenes. 
It is Napoleon at the tomb of the great Frederick, rebuking 
the fulsome flattery of his courtier, and saying, "I wish I 
had known Frederick the Great. I think we should have 
understood each other ! " The revelation comes. The chords 
of its inmost soul begin to vibrate. Its infinite heart 

' ' Responds, as if with unseen wings 
An angel touched its quivering strings ; 
And whispers, in its song, 
' Where hast thou stayed so long ? ' " 

Of course we are familiar with its counterfeit, " the con- 
tortion of the Sibyl without the inspiration." But men are 
not deceived. Young England with its turned-down collars 
and dishevelled hair is in reality as far removed from its 
great idol as ever. Samson's strength is not acquired by 
simply cutting off the locks of his head, nor the secret of 
genius discovered by gazing on its clothes. As well might 
one hope to appropriate the fine qualities and accomplish- 
ments of a man after the manner of certain South Sea 
Islanders, by eating him. " We can examine," says a 

GENIUS. 281 

recent writer, " the meat upon which our Csesar fed, the 
stupidities he had to explode, the malaria into which he 
drove his ozone ; but when we have done all this, what have 
we got ? We have got a plexus of causes which operated on 
a thousand other minds as well as his, and we have missed 
the invisible chemistry which created in him and in him 
alone the personal endowment that enabled him to do his 
work. Explain and analyze as we will, there is always in 
the greatest men an unexplained residuum of personal power. 
We do not say that it must for ever be inexplicable. We 
only say that it is thus far unexplained, and is pretty likely 
to remain so until the fundamental riddle of psychology is 
solved. We may then anatomize our Hercules as much as 
we choose ; we may examine the marshy habitat of his mon- 
sters, and survey the forest from which he got his club ; but 
we need not forget, in doing that, that there is, after all, be- 
tween Hercules and Cacus a difference worth accenting, and 
that the only way of accenting it to any purpose is by means 
of the old-fashioned ' Bravo, Hercules ! '" 

The unexpected way in which this strange gift reveals 
itself at times is not a little remarkable. It turns up in 
most unlooked-for quarters. Like the cereus from its homely 
stalk, it appears amid most untoward surroundings ; but the 
common air is at once surcharged with fragrance. Amid 
the plain prose of everyday life there it stands, " a joy 
for ever." Take the case of Gerster, for instance, her fame 
and fortune made in one night, the night of her first 
appearance in opera. Hitherto an unknown Hungarian, 
she jumped from obscurity to popularity and wealth in less 
than a week. Like Erskine's famous leap in that one great 
speech of his before Lord Mansfield, it was at once seen that 
a great star had appeared. The immortal fire had been 
slumbering in silent depths, awaiting only the breath of 
great occasion to fan it into flame. Charlotte Cushman's 
experience was very similar. She somewhere tells us of the 

282 GENIUS. 

astonishment of the audience, as well as of the performers, 
when she first made her wonderful entree as Meg Merrilees. 
Miss Cushman was then simply a "utility" woman. "Guy 
Mannering " was running, and the artist who acted the old 
witch, and who did it in the ordinary stage manner, being 
ill, Miss Cushman was called upon to take the part. It 
suddenly flashed upon her that she might make a hit, so she 
rushed on the stage and assumed the pose which is now so 
well remembered in connection with her assumption of the 
part. To her must be accredited the creation of this striking 
picture. The marvellous performance, for downright power, 
has never been surpassed. 

Then, too, the apparent ease with which genius accom- 
plishes its tasks, however difficult, is noteworthy. How 
simple its products appear when seen as accomplished 
results ! What wonder that many are deceived by this, 
and led to think the same achievement possible to all ! Not 
till the attempt is made is the mistake discerned. The 
struggling aspiration of a thousand hearts is crystallized 
into felicitous speech. A thousand had the thought ; it 
remained for genius to coin the waiting phrase and put its 
stamp upon it. " I will frame a work of fiction upon 
notorious fact," says Horace in his "Art of Poetry" as 
quoted by Reade, " so that anybody shall think he can do 
the same ; shall labour and toil attempting the same, and 
fail such is the power of sequence and connection in 
writing." There is ever a certain indefinable something 
present in the works of genius which even the highest talent 
cannot attain to, although the work of the latter may be far 
more perfect as regards detail. In illustration of this, it 
is related of a certain French sculptor who had erected an 
equestrian statue to Peter the Great at St. Petersburg, that 
once, while lecturing to a class of students, in criticising 
works of art he called attention to the celebrated equestrian 
statue of Marcus Aurelius at Rome. He pointed out a great 

GENIUS. 283 

number of anatomical faults in the figure of the horse, all of 
which, as he called the class to note, were avoided in the 
horse which he had modelled. And yet, after noting all 
this, he frankly declared, " Notwithstanding, this poor beast 
is alive, while mine is dead !" 

How readily, too, it transports itself at will from the cold 
hard facts of the present, from its frowning realities, to its 
own ideal world. Another sun rises on its dominions. 
Another moon with serene, unearthly splendour illumes its 
weird and silent nights. Scorned, it may be, and insulted 
in the market-place, it goes home and recounts its treasures, 
like Zaccheus, all undisturbed. What pranks it plays ! Let 
its foes lie in wait all night and seek to slay it, and like 
Samson it will arise betimes and carry off in triumph the 
gates of Gaza upon its shoulders. Its horizon is boundless. 
Heaven and hell are open to it. A beggar's garment is 
transformed to a prince's robe. The abode of poverty is 
transfigured. The worn rug assumes the beauty of Brussels 
or Axminster. The thatched roof is glorified with a name- 
less charm. How it idealizes ! In the rude and uncouth 
architecture of the quaint old village church it finds sugges- 
tion of the " long-drawn aisle and fretted vault," and in the 
wheezy organ still hears the lofty diapasons and wailing 
symphonies of grand cathedral tones. It weaves its woof of 
golden threads into the warp of homespun circumstance, and, 
lo ! there emerges a rare and costly fabric from its mystic 
loom. It thus possesses the fine power of transmuting com- 
mon things to gold. It can seize upon suggestions from 
passing life and common events anywhere. Thorwaldsen 
was famous for this. He sees a young labourer for a 
moment in an unusual but natural posture. A new statue 
stands before his imagination. He hurries home, and pres- 
ently his " Mercury as the Slayer of Argos " appears, long 
known as one of his finest works. Like others of his class, 
he had his seasons of unproductiveness. At such times he 

284 GENIUS. 

was moody and dejected, and had no energy. Except super- 
vising the work of his assistants, he would be thus idle or 
unproductive for weeks and months. His two figures 
" Night " and " Day," so universally admired, were the 
work of a single day, a day of gloom and dejection. The 
same was true of Irving. For weeks he would not write a 
word ; then, catching a sudden inspiration, he would turn 
off page after page of most brilliant work. It is interesting 
to think of those periods when, after prolonged and mono- 
tonous ebbing, at length the tide comes in. The eagle upon 
the earth is but a dull and drowsy-looking bird, moving 
about seemingly dejected and with drooping pinion ; but let 
once the inspiration of his native heaven come over him, and, 
lo ! on tireless wing he cleaves the sky. This tendency to 
seasons of indolence may well be regarded as one of the safe- 
guards of genius. Who can doubt that but for this the heat 
of the furnace and fierceness of the flames might often en- 
danger if not destroy the earthen vessel 1 

What could be finer than its rare power of incarnating 
itself, and wreaking its thought upon expression on the im- 
mortal canvas or in the imperishable stone? Da Vinci 
spends four years upon that marvellous head of Mona Lisa 
in the Louvre, and leaves a thought there for all coming 
time ; the depth of expression in the face being at once the 
wonder and despair of artists. Roebling, the living martyr 
to his own great enterprise, gazes from his invalid's pillow 
upon the completed towers of that majestic bridge now 
spanning the East River, and exclaims with the enthusiasm 
of a child, " Ah ! that's just as I expected to see it !" The 
dream of the great engineer is realized. The lonely, recluse 
genius of Hawthorne toils away untiringly at its self-imposed 
tasks unrecognized for twenty years. At length the fitting 
recognition comes. 

There are certain wiseacres who pride themselves on being 
practical, matter-of-fact individuals. In their estimation men 

GENIUS. 285 

of genius are visionary and their projects "moonshine." 
Physical activity is considered by many very sincere people 
the chief end of man. Unquestionably there exists a very 
general impression that " the study lamp of the student 
shines on an idle dreamer, a drone in the great hive." 
The favourite and ever-recurring challenge of these utilitari- 
ans seems to be, "Will it bake bread?" and that it will not, 
is sufficient condemnation in their eyes. As if the "Apollo," 
or the "Transfiguration," or the " Paradise Lost" were con- 
cerned with a wheaten loaf or questions of the pantry ! 
Such, doubtless, have forgotten that it is written, " Man 
shall not live by bread alone." 

Holland, indeed, has conclusively shown the fallacy of 
such ideas, and one of the profoundest of English philoso- 
phers has declared : " It would not be difficult by an un- 
broken chain of historic facts to demonstrate that the most 
important discoveries in science and improvements in the 
mechanic arts had their origin, not in the cabinets of states- 
men, nor in the practical insight of men of business, but in 
the visions of recluse genius." This suggests, naturally, the 
associated thought of the pecuniary rewards of genius. In 
our day, at least, these are not unworthy of note. The 
profits of authors, for instance, is an interesting subject. 
Here, as elsewhere, we find genuine material always in 
demand. For the " Hanging of the Crane " Longfellow 
received four thousand dollars, twenty dollars per line. 
Tennyson received, we are told, three guineas a line from 
the Comhill Magazine for his " Tithonus," and nearly twice 
that for the " Revenge." The Harpers paid as copyright to 
Motley about sixty thousand dollars ; to Jacob Abbott, about 
fifty thousand dollars ; and to Professor Anthon, about one 
hundred thousand. In the " Life and Letters " of Macaulay 
we are told that twenty-six thousand five hundred copies of 
his History had been sold in ten weeks. Longman, his 
publisher, one day came to him, and said they were over- 

286 GENIUS. 

flowing with money, and proposed to pay him 20,000 the 
following week. The cheque is still preserved as a curiosity 
among the archives of Messrs. Longman's firm. " I went 
into the city," says Macaulay, "to give instructions, and was 
warmly congratulated on being a great moneyed man. I 
said that I had some thoughts of going to the Chancellor of 
the Exchequer as a bidder for the next loan." Scott re- 
ceived 8,000 for " Woodstock," and George Eliot the same 
amount for " Middlemarch." For receipts from actual writing, 
indeed, it has been affirmed that no one has yet approached 
Scott, whose income for several years ranged from 10,000 
to 15,000, mainly drawn from this source. He was paid 
110,000 for eleven novels of three volumes each and nine 
volumes of "Tales of my Landlord." Lord Beaconsfield 
received 12,000 for his last novel, which it is believed re- 
presents the largest amount ever given in England for any 
single work of fiction. Beaconsfield 's earlier novels, notwith- 
standing the success of the first, " Vivian Grey," had a very 
limited sale. He is said to have made by his pen, in all, 
30,000. The "Curiosities of Literature" of the elder 
Disraeli must have produced a large sum of money. It 
forms a part of every good collection of English books, and 
has passed through many editions. Byron is said to have 
earned by his pen 23,000. Thiers and Lamartine received 
nearly 20,000 each for their respective histories. Lord 
Lytton made 80,000 by his novels, and Trollope in twenty 
years made 70,000. Dickens, it has been computed, ought 
to have been making 10,000 a year for the three years prior 
to the publication of " Nicholas Nickleby." He left 80,000, 
and a considerable slice of this came from books, but it 
was his " Readings " which made him affluent ; and so too 
with Thackeray. Richardson, it is said, was the first 
Englishman who made a really good thing out of writing. 
Miss Braddon's receipts from writing are estimated as among 
the half-dozen highest of writers of fiction. It has been 

GENIUS. 287 

noted that many of those books which pay so well are the 
last which would occur to persons as being lucrative. Thus 
" Thornton's Family Prayers " has been a mine of money to 
an English family ; and Marcius Willson received a surpris- 
ingly large sum as copyright from the Harpers for his series 
of school readers. These figures certainly would seem quite 
sufficient as a hint and incentive to those about to enter upon 
literature as a profession. Turning to the stage, we find 
Edwin Booth in a single tour through the South realizing 
fifty-two thousand dollars, and Patti receiving five thousand 
dollars a night for her singing. 

On the other hand, I suppose a record of the sorrows and 
misfortunes of the sons of genius would suffice to fill many 
a volume. We remember that Milton and Addison were 
secretaries, and that Byron was a peer ; it is hard also for 
us to conceive of Homer as a beggar, and to realize that 
Cervantes died of hunger, and that the " Vicar of Wakefield " 
was sold for a trifle to save its author from the grip of the 
law. And yet, after all, may it not well be questioned 
whether men have not oftener been indebted to the frowns 
than to the smiles of fortune ? True, a man need not be 
useless because he happens to be rich ; and yet had Shake- 
speare been a member of the British aristocracy, how much 
might the world have lost ! Scott's motto for life seems to 
have been, as he says in his journal, 11 faut d'argent (" I 
must have money "). To come nearer home, take the testi- 
mony of one of the most famous of young American authors 
in a recent conversation concerning his motive for writing. 
He made no secret of it. "As I tell the publishers," he said, 
" the love of money is the root of all literature." 

But beyond all this, high genius invests its possessor with 
a power which cannot be measured by pecuniary values. 
Angelo, incensed with the Pope, indignantly leaves Rome 
for Florence. Even the threat of excommunication cannot 
bring him back. Appeased by the proposal of his Holiness 

288 GENIUS. 

to meet him half-way and escort him into his own domin- 
ions, he returns. Some of the courtiers having proposed 
the punishment of such insolence with death " I will," re- 
plies the wily pontiff, "if you will first find me another 
Michael Angelo ! " At the end of the Seven Years' War 
D'Alembert went to visit the great Frederick at Potsdam, 
and spoke of the glory he had acquired in the war. " The 
king," writes D'Alembert, "answered, with the greatest 
simplicity, that a large deduction should be made from the 
glory due him, and that chance had much to do with it. ' I 
would,' said Frederick, 'much rather have written "Athalie" 
than be the hero of the Seven Years' War.' " No less strik- 
ing is the well-known tribute of General Wolfe to the 
"Elegy." Receiving a copy on the eve of the assault on 
Quebec, he was so struck with its beauty that he declared 
he would prefer being its author to being the victor in the 
projected attack, in which he so gloriously lost his life. The 
secret of it all may doubtless be discovered in the observa- 
tion of Charles II. to a courtier as he picked up Titian's 
mall-stick : " A king you can always have ; a genius comes 
but rarely." 

It is curious to note, though, among those who have 
achieved permanent fame, how small is the parcel which 
this one or that is seen to be carrying with him down the 
ages. A single effort, however, has often sufficed to im- 
mortalize one. The " Marseillaise," for instance, was the 
one effort of its author, Rouget de 1'Isle. The " Elegy " 
is about the only production which the masses, at least, 
associate with Gray. Swift is remembered principally as 
the author of " Gulliver's Travels," De Foe as the author 
of "Robinson Crusoe." Southey's fame rests on his Lives 
of Nelson and Wesley. Bunyan is generally known as the 
author of the " Pilgrim's Progress " only. Steele lives 
chiefly as the friend of Addison. Lady Ann Barnard never 
wrote anything but " Auld Robin Gray ; " but then that is 

GENIUS. 289 

probably one of the most beautiful and pathetic songs ever 

A chapter concerning the great, en deshabille, showing 
how they relieved the strain and tension under which they 
have worked, and sought to unbend themselves, could hardly 
fail to be vastly entertaining. It has been justly observed 
that a bow need not always be strung an acrobat is not 
always on the tight-rope. Those who have known the 
world best have told us that there is far less radical and 
intrinsic difference between one man and another than the 
uninitiated would suppose ; that there is, running through 
nature, an all-levelling principle, which permits no Titans 
except those which credulity would create. Oxenstiern was 
no cynic when he turned and said with a sigh to his son, 
" Ah, my child, you know not how little wisdom is required 
for governing the world." " I remember," says Bolingbroke, 
in one of his letters to Swift, "to have seen a procession at 
Aix-la-Chapelle wherein an image of Charlemagne is carried 
011 the shoulders of a man who is hid by the long robe of the 
imperial saint. Follow him into the vestry, and you see the 
bearer slip from under the robe, and the gigantic figure 
dwindles into an image of the ordinary size, and is set by 
among the lumber." And such, in his opinion, are those who 
make history. Lord Waldegrave, in his memoirs, writes : 
" I must not lift up the veil, and shall only add that no man 
can have a clear conception how great personages pass their 
leisure hours who has not been a prince's governor or a king's 
favourite." It has been truly said that man is what he is, 
not by nature, but by effort ; and as it is by artificial means 
that water is raised above the level of the original fountain, 
so it is by artificial means that man raises himself above the 
level of ordinary humanity. "Nature has, it is true, her 
favourites, but she is more impartial than we give her credit 
for. The life of what we call a great man is a continual 
struggle ; and it matters little what character on the stage of 
(79) ]9 

290 GENIUS. 

the world he is supporting, whether he be a poet or a states- 
man, a Napoleon or a Michael Angelo it is equally arduous, 
it is equally incessant." Swift, we are told, relieved his 
tense and tragic moods by harnessing his servants with cords 
and driving them up and down the stairs and through the 
rooms of his deanery. Peter the Great sought to unbend 
himself by being wheeled over the flower-beds and parterres 
of his host's garden in a wheel-barrow, as poor Sir William 
Temple found to his cost. Cardinal Mazarin is said to have 
been fond of shutting himself up in a room and jumping over 
the chairs, arranged in positions varying according to the 
degrees of difficulty in clearing them. Of this weakness on 
the part of his Excellency an amusing anecdote is told. On 
one occasion, while engaged in these athletics, he forgot to 
lock the door. A young courtier, inadvertently entering the 
room, surprised the great man in his undignified pursuit. 
It was an embarrassing position, for Mazarin was, he knew, 
as haughty as he was eccentric. But the young man was 
equal to the crisis. Assuming the intensest interest in the 
proceeding, he exclaimed with well-feigned earnestness, "I 
will bet your Eminence two gold pieces I can beat that 
jump." He had struck the right chord, and in two minutes 
he was measuring his leaping powers with the Prime Min- 
ister, whom he took care not to beat. He lost his two gold 
pieces, but he gained, before long, a mitre. Samuel Clarke 
was accustomed to seek relaxation in the same way ; and on 
one occasion, seeing a pedantic fellow approaching, said to the 
pupil who was sharing his amusements, " Now we must stop, 
for a fool is coming in." Old Burton, the author of the 
" Anatomy of Melancholy," the only book, we are told, 
which got Dr. Johnson out of his bed two hours before he 
intended to rise, found his chief recreation in going down to 
Folly Bridge at Oxford and listening to the ribaldry of the 
bargemen ; " which did cleare away his vapoures, and make 
him laugh as he would die." Sir Robert "Walpole "could 

GENIUS. 291 

never enjoy a dinner without lively conversation going on 
around him. If the company were dull, he would send to 
the circus and order musicians and actors to come across and 
enliven them. At other times he would summon story- 
tellers and anecdote-mongers, or set two philosophers by the 
ears that he might listen to their argument. Goldsmith, 
Shelley, and Macaulay would idle away whole days in romp- 
ing with children." Machiavelli and Burke delighted to 
forget politics by sharing the labours of their farm-servants ] 
and even the stately Bolingbroke, as Pope tells us in one 
of his delightful letters, was not above shouldering a prong. 
How true it is that there is but a step between the sublime 
and the ridiculous ! It has been well observed that the 
famous saying that no hero is a hero to his valet was, un- 
happily, not refuted by Goethe, when he asserted in his 
magnificent way that a hero is a hero, and a valet is a valet. 
" How Howard's servants and family must have smiled 
when they read Burke's magnificent panegyric on the great 
philanthropist ! We wonder what Antonina thought of the 
Conqueror of the World, and the Duchess of Marlborough 
of the ' Scourge of France.' The one, if we are to believe 
Procopius, was an abject slave of his contemptible consort; 
the other, it is well known, never durst wag a finger in 
opposition to his wife." But the contrast between a great 
man as he appears to the world and as he appears in private 
life was never more strikingly illustrated than in the case of 
the younger Pitt. Lady Hester Stanhope tells us that when 
he was at Walmer he used to go to a farm where hay and 
corn were kept for the horsea He had a room fitted up 
there with a table and two or three chairs. " Oh, what 
slices of bread and butter I have seen him eat there, and 
hunches of bread and cheese big enough for a ploughman ! 
He used to say that whenever he could retire from public 
life he would have a good English woman-cook. To see him 
at table with vulgar sea captains and ignorant militia colonels 

292 GENIUS. 

with two or three servants in attendance, he who had been 
accustomed to a servant behind each chair, to all that was 
great and distinguished in Europe, one might suppose dis- 
gust would have worked some change in him ; but it was 
always the same." 

" We must take men, however," observes a clever essayist, 
"even the greatest, as we find them. When the late Lord 
Westbury remarked of one of his contemporaries that he had 
not a single redeeming vice, he made an observation which 
was far less cynical than it would at first sight appear to be. 
To expect a human creature to be all genius, all intellect, all 
virtue, all dignity, would be as absurd as to expect that 
midnight should be all stars. Curiosity about the minor 
incidents in the lives of great men is to a certain extent 
legitimate, and even profitable. To find the great on a level 
with ourselves may gratify our vanity, but it sometimes may 
lead to very erroneous conclusions. We have often been 
struck," he continues, " with the significance of an anecdote 
which Mr. Hookham Frere once related to his nephew about 
Canning : < I remember one day going to consult Canning on 
a matter of great importance to me, when he was staying at 
Enfield. We walked into the woods to have a quiet talk, 
and as we passed some ponds I was surprised to find that it 
was a new light to him that tadpoles turned into frogs. 
"Kow, don't you," he added, "go and tell that story to the 
next fool you meet.'" Canning could and did rule a great 
and civilized nation ; but people are apt to fancy that ' a 
man who does not know the natural history of frogs must be 
an imbecile in the treatment of men.' " 

There is one trait which every truly great genius seems 
to possess, and that is a certain playful, almost childlike 
simplicity of character. It was true of Chalmers; and we 
all know how genial and sunny a companion was good Nor- 
man Macleod, the beloved and honoured chaplain of the 
Queen. As has been finely said of Shakespeare, " the spirit 

OENIUS. 293 

that could conjure up a Hamlet and a Lear would have 
broken had it not possessed, as well, the humour which could 
produce a Falstaff and the ' Merry Wives of Windsor.' " 
If it be true, as doubtless it is, that there exists a widely 
prevailing tendency to hero-worship among men, one occa- 
sionally meets with instances which reveal the fact that 
some, at least, are exempt. At the Radstock station on 
the North Somerset Railway two rustics met. Said one, 
" Hast been to Vroom to-day?" "Ay," replied the other. 
" Didst hire Gladstone speak ? " " Noa," rejoined the second. 
" Ee be no moar than any other man ; why should I go to 
year ee speak ? What be ee moar than thee or I ? " It re- 
minds one of the remark of one of his countrymen concern- 
ing Shakespeare. " Eh, man," said the worthy bailie, " he 
maun hae been a wonderfu' man, that Shackspear. There 
war things cam' into his heid that wad never hae coom into 
mine ava." "Even Wordsworth," said Charles Lamb, "one 
day told me he considered Shakespeare greatly overrated. 
' There is an immensity of trick in all that Shakespeare 
wrote,' he said, ' and the people are taken by it. Now if I 
had a mind, I could write exactly like Shakespeare.' So 
you see," proceeded Lamb quietly, " it was only the mind 
that was wanting." 

The absent-mindedness of genius is proverbial. A de- 
cidedly entertaining volume might no doubt be written 
recounting the laughable illustrations of this alone. Who, 
indeed, can picture to himself without smiling Sydney Smith 
rapping at the door of his friend's house and suddenly dis- 
covering, with confusion, that he has actually forgotten his 
own name? The drollest of all, however, it seems to us, 
belongs to Lessing. In his old age he was subject to ex- 
traordinary fits of abstraction. On his return home one 
evening, after he had knocked at his door, his servant looked 
out of the window to see who was there. Not recognizing 
his master in the dark, and mistaking him for a stranger, 

294 GENIUS. 

he called out, " The professor is not at home ! " " Oh, very 
well," replied Lessing. "No matter; I'll call at another 

However men may seek to define this rare, mysterious 
gift, one thing is certain we never fail to recognize its 
presence. Whenever great genius appears, castle gates at 
once fly open. The patronage of kings and princes is as- 
sured. From newsboy to royalty comes spontaneous and 
willing tribute. In presence of its great achievements we 
inevitably feel within us the throbbings of a noble joy. The 
subtile spell is upon us a power which we instantly recog- 
nize and gratefully confess. What wonder, then, its pos- 
sessors should be both envied and adored ? 


/l&asters of tbe Situation. 

Men who have taken the giant world by the throat, and thrown him. 


To be great, one must know how to profit by the whole of one's fortune. 


There are no circumstances, however unfortunate, that clever people 
do not extract some advantage from. Ib. 

11 Something in fires depends upon the grate." 

IT has been our aim in this volume to bring out in as strong 
a light as possible some of those qualities which have proved 
to be secrets of success and power in the careers of those 
who have attained to fame and exalted station in the various 
walks of life. We have seen how men have risen on these 
sure stepping-stones to the highest places. We have found 
them, thus equipped, organizing victory out of defeat, and 
proving themselves, even amid circumstances most adverse, 
masters of the situation. 

Unquestionably some allowance should be made for the 
difference in men in native power, since nothing is more 
noticeable. "One man speaks, and his words are edicts. 
Nations run to obey, as if to obey were the only joy they 
coveted. Another speaks, and only makes us question 
whether the gift of speech be on the whole a blessing." 
That was a significant remark of an ancient general when 
about to bring on a battle. His officers endeavoured to dis- 


suade him from his purpose on account of the superior 
numbers of the foe. Impatiently turning upon them, he 
demanded, "For how many men do you count me?" It is 
indeed true that one man may sometimes count for thou- 
sands for or against. On the other hand, there are men 
whose very presence seems to foreshadow defeat from the 
start. As the discerning bishop said to the young eccle- 
siastic, " I do not forbid you to preach, but Nature does." 
Now nothing, as we have found, is more remarkable in 
successful men than their strong and pronounced individu- 
ality. Clearly all men are not masters; with some it is 
"as though they laid a finger on the keyboard of an organ, 
touching a note here and there. A flute voice answers, or 
a vox humana, perhaps even a vox angelica; but they do 
not know the instrument until the master musician sits down 
before it, and they hear the thunder of the diapason, the 
rush of mighty harmonies the tender strains of melody." 
There is 110 denying that Nature herself has lavishly gifted 
certain men, and thus placing them on vantage-ground, has 
made achievement easier and success seemingly almost 
inevitable. All things appear to be in league with such as 
these. In their own province they are irresistible; you 
cannot come upon them unawares and keep them at dis- 
advantage; their resources seem indeed almost infinite. 
Take Marlborough, for instance. Burton, in his " History 
of the Reign of Queen Anne," says of him : " Unlike most 
men of great firmness and self-reliance, Marlborough courted 
counsel and discussion; he could conduct it with absolute 
calmness and courtesy. On his own clear views of what 
was to be done it had no effect, but it gained him coad- 
jutors ; for he was, like Wolsey, fair-spoken and persuasive. 
His patience was inexhaustible. He was cautious, but his 
caution had its corrective in an unmatched promptitude of 
vision. He thus never committed a rash act or missed an 
opportunity for striking an effective blow. His fertility in 


resources made him less amenable to disappointment when 
his favourite scheme was thwarted than men of smaller re- 
sources, whose mind contains but one scheme at a time, and 
that being forbidden, are destitute of other resource, and 
helpless. To him, if one way were closed, there was ever 
another opening. He felt secure in himself; be the con- 
ditions that were to be wrought with what they might, he 
would bring out of them results which no other man could 

Of course the interest with which we regard such men is 
natural and inevitable. "We admire them, and we cannot 
help it ; it is as natural for us as breathing. Yet we must 
not forget that such instances are rare, and that we always 
concede to such that indefinable gift which we call genius. 
But, after all, have we not found the most effective genius 
to be the genius of hard work ? Have we not seen, more- 
over, that even those whose great achievements seem 
spontaneous have been indebted for their seemingly easy 
triumphs to an intensity of toil and previous preparation 
of which their admirers little dreamed? We marvel, for 
instance, at the skill which enables a great artist to take a 
little colour that lies inert upon his palette a little gray and 
brown and white and presently to so "transfigure it into 
a living presence " that our hearts throb faster only to look 
upon it, and there come upon the soul all those influences 
which one feels beneath the shadow of the Jungfrau or the 
Matterhorn, or amid the awful solitudes of Mont Blanc. 
But behind that apparent ease and skill are the years of 
struggle and effort and application which have conferred the 
envied power. The same is true elsewhere. Say what we 
may, we have found that, after all, the greatest difference in 
men consists in the cultivation or non-cultivation of those 
qualities which we have had under consideration ; in other 
words, in the improvement or neglect of those faculties and 
endowments which are for the most part the common inheri- 


tance of all. If one aspires to distinction, he must be willing 
to pay the price ; there is no other way. Nothing is denied 
to well-directed energy. "The barriers are not erected 
which can say to aspiring talents and industry, ' Thus far 
and no farther.'" 

We have discovered that numerous factors have entered 
into all distinguished success, one of which has been an 
unmistakable promptness the faculty of seizing at once 
upon every circumstance which "makes" in one's favour. 
The great herd of mankind, the fruges consumere nati, 
pass their lives, as Wirt has said, in listless inattention and 
indifference as to what is going on around them, "being 
perfectly content to satisfy the mere cravings of nature, 
while those who are destined to distinction have a lynx-eyed 
vigilance that nothing can escape. You see nothing of the 
Paul Pry in them ; yet they know all that is passing, and 
keep a perfect reckoning not only of every interesting pas- 
sage, but of all the characters of the age who have any 
concern in them." A certain well-known writer some years 
since published a series of articles entitled, "Thoughts as 
they occur, by one who keeps his eyes and ears open." In 
that very title we find one secret of their author's great fame 
and success. On the other hand, thousands go through life 
perpetually looking, but never seeing anything; having ears, 
it is true, but never really hearing anything at least to 
their advantage. 

This alertness has enabled its possessors again and again to 
cover even defeat with the semblance of victory, indeed to 
organize victory out of defeat. Caesar, for instance, at his 
landing stumbles on the sands. Instantly he covers his 
mischance and hides the evil omen from his followers by 
grasping the very sand which threw him, and holding it 
aloft, with heroic utterance turns his threatened defeat into 
a shout of triumph. It was the same spirit a spirit which 
brooks no defeat which voiced itself in the utterance of the 


savage when he exclaimed, " Indian no lost ; wigwam lost ! " 
One cannot hide the fact that at times there will occur, even 
to the most gifted and successful, certain unlooked-for com- 
binations which test most severely the finest qualities of even 
an adept, and which require a sort of desperation to extricate 
one's self cleverly. Yet a man of first-rate powers will 
usually find a " happy issue " out of even these. Who has 
not had days come to him that have led him to believe 
most fully in what some one has felicitously called " the total 
depravity of inanimate things " 1 In these very crises, how- 
ever, lookers-on come to realize that, as the Greeks used to 
say, one finished man is worth a thousand ill-disciplined and 
grovelling ones. In order to be master of the situation at 
all times, one must needs be, in fact, as Chesterfield puts it 
in one of his letters, omnis homo. 

"If we sometimes deceive ourselves," says Marshal Mar- 
mont, "in judging by facts, we should deceive ourselves 
much more in directing ourselves solely by personal know- 
ledge of individuals. Fortune may once or twice overwhelm 
with her favours a man who is not worthy of them ; she may 
betray the finest combinations of genius, and humble a noble 
character ; but when the struggle is prolonged, when events 
are multiplied, the man of true talents infallibly conquers 
her favours." 

In order to attain this full command of one's powers, we 
have seen, moreover, that sound physical health is indis- 
pensable. One's reserves must be carefully looked after 
and his resources in this direction must be always at com- 
mand. Some men have such a fund of vitality that from 
sheer magnetic, physical force they seem resistless and every- 
thing bows before them. Thus, doubtless, there are families 
that have " clutched success and kept it through generations 
from the simple fact of a splendid physical organization 
handed down from one generation to another." Holland, 
indeed, maintains that the remarkable influence of such men 


as Hall and Taylor is clue in large measure to this fact of 
fine physical endowment. 

Then there is the influence of habit, which enters so largely 
as a factor into all real and permanent success that it cannot 
safely be ignored ; while, mingling itself with all one's 
efforts, there must be that deep enthusiasm, that passion for 
one's work, whatever it be, that makes toil easy and holds 
one unflinchingly to his task. 

Thus equipped, one may serenely bide his time, as oppor- 
tunities, sooner or later, are sure to present themselves for 
the fullest display of all his powers. Even if failure over- 
take one occasionally, he need not be disheartened. Real 
success in life does not consist, of course, in never failing, 
in never making a blunder or mistake. Many men who 
have succeeded have first failed, and some of them more than 
once before achieving their success. The real wisdom con- 
sists in not making the same blunder a second time. The 
negroes of Central Africa have a saying that the man is a 
fool whose sheep run away twice. There is no little philos- 
ophy underlying this. What could be finer than that saying 
of Macaulay's concerning Alexander the Great, " Often de- 
feated in battle, yet always successful in war " ? 

A curious society still exists in Paris composed of dra- 
matic authors, who meet once a month and dine together. 
Their number has no fixed limit, only every member to be 
eligible must have been hissed. An eminent dramatist is 
selected as chairman, and holds the post for three months. 
His election generally follows close upon a splendid failure. 
Some of the world-famous ones have enjoyed this honour. 
Dumas, jun., Zola, and Offenbach have all filled the chair and 
presided at the monthly dinner. These dinners are given on 
the last Friday of the month, and are said to be extraor- 
dinarily hilarious. 

Few sights are more impressive than that of the incoming 
tide. How surge after surge plunges in as if to stay ! But 


no; the very next instant sees it disappear. Apparently 
nothing has been gained. But stay. Behind all this sur- 
face fluctuation, this seeming defeat, has been the awful, 
resistless purpose of the unconquerable sea, and now it is 
full high tide. So with successful men. Behind all else, 
scorning disaster and defeat, has been the single eye, the 
steady purpose of an unconquerable soul. If you are a close 
observer, you will almost always detect in the countenances 
of these men traces of the struggle through which they have 
passed ; for success, wherever real and lasting, is wrought 
out by mighty endeavour. The sculjrtor's chisel always 
leaves its lines of power upon the statue's front. 

Let it not be forgotten that the demand for the qualities 
we have been considering is a steady one in the markets of 
the world, and will not cease. Never was there an age 
which offered greater incentives or grander inspirations to 
young men than the present. The great places of trust and 
power and responsibility are waiting for you. In a few brief 
years they will be in your hands. It is for you to prepare 
yourselves for them. Resolve to make yourselves masters of 
the situation. Study great models ; mercilessly avoid and 
ignore inferior ones. It was said of Sir Peter Lely that he 
would never allow himself to look upon an inferior painting, 
believing that unconsciously his brush caught a taint by even 
such contact. The age wants men. " There is but one thing 
which God has given us the right to claim when we are sent 
into the world, and that is, character. We may not ask for 
riches and popularity, but we can build up a character of 
faithfulness, goodness, and honesty. We may send out the 
claim, and the world will not deny the claim. For other 
things, which are gifts, we may be thankful, but this alone 
may we demand." 

Never for a moment allow yourself to believe that there is 
any necessary antagonism between success and downright 
integrity of character, uprightness of heart and life. The 


long array of Christian jurists and statesmen and merchant- 
princes which might be cited would seem to give to an error 
like this a sufficient refutation. Amid the prevailing irrev- 
erence and scepticisms and frivolities of the day, seek ever to 
cherish and cultivate a reverent spirit. Remember that the 
proudest earthly triumphs are, at best, but transient and 
fleeting. "The fashion of this world passeth away," and 
even the paths of glory " lead but to the grave ; " whereas 
" godliness is profitable unto all things, having promise of 
the life that now is, and of that which is to come." 

"We live in deeds, not years ; in thoughts, not breaths ; 
In feelings, not in figures on a dial. 
We should count time by heart-throbs. He most lives 
Who thinks most, feels the noblest, acts the best." 

Ube /toaster's Uoucb, 

In the still air the music lies unheard ; 

In the rough marble beauty hides unseen : 
To wake the music and the beauty, needs 

The master's touch, the sculptor's chisel keen. 

Great Master, touch us with Thy skilful hand, 

Let not the music that is in us die ; 
Great Sculptor, hew and polish us, nor let, 

Hidden and lost, Thy form within us lie. 

Spare not the stroke, do with us as Thou wilt ; 

Let there be nought unfinished, broken, marred ; 
Complete Thy purpose, that we may become 

Thy perfect image, O our God and Lord ! 



Abercorn, Marquis of, 24. 

Abercromby, Sir Ralph, 209. 

Abernethy, John, surgeon, 182. 

Achilles, 248. 

Adams, John Quincy, 137. 

Addison, Joseph, his fastidiousness, 82 ; 
on good-nature, 214. 

Adolphus, Gustavus, 17. 

Agassiz, Prof. Louis J. R., naturalist, 
119, 129. 

Alcott, A. Bronson, 149. 

Alexander the Great, 17 ; his rule, 29 ; in- 
fluenced by Homer, 55; cited, 129, 300. 

Alexander I., of Russia, 65. 

Alexander, Dr. J. W., on Henry Clay, 

Alfleri, his habit, 158. 

Alford, Henry, Dean, on important mo- 
ments, 262. 

Alison, Sir Archibald, 2.' 4. 

Angelo, Michael, his familiarity with 
works of others, 51 ; his application, 70 ; 
definition of beauty, 120; 194, 250, 258, 

Anthon, Prof. Charles, his device, 98. 

Apelles, painter, 51, 194. 

Application, 66-108; foolish notion con- 
cerning it, 66; its importance, 71; its 
value, 74 ; needful to men of letters, 77 ; 
remarkable examples of, 80, 96; its 
value to journalists, 87; often dreaded 
by great writers, 88; importance to 
business men, 93 ; expedients adopted 
by hard workers, 98; exemplified by 
womanhood, 99, 101; characteristic of 
great lawyers, actors, and musicians, 
102-105; wealth and royalty not ex- 
empt, 107. 


Archias, his fatal procrastination, 82. 

Arden, Pepper, 69. 

Arnold, Edwin, 55, 126. 

Arnold, Rev. Frederick, on signal mo- 
ments, 18, 262, 265, 267. 

Arnold, Matthew, 51, 118, 199. 

Arnold, Dr. Thomas, 205. 

Arrius, Pere, 62. 

Artists, great, their application, 93. 

Astor, William B., 136. 

Attention, its value, 139. 

Austen, Miss, 40. 

Authors, would-be, advice to, 56; habits 
of, 145-157. 

BACON, Lord, 17, 123. 

Badeau, General Adam, on Grant, 45, 240. 

Bailey, Philip James, 91. 

Balzac, his habit, 150, 155, 157, 245. 

Bancroft, George, historian, his method, 

146, 203. 

Barnard, Lady Ann, 289. 
Barry, painter, his prompt decision, 27. 
Beard, Dr., on the " golden decade," 175. 
Beecher, Henry Ward, 151. 
Beethoven, 65 ; his application, 102 ; his 

purpose, 129; his habit, 143; patience, 


Bell, Sir Charles, physiologist, 169. 
Bembo, Cardinal, his application, 82. 
Bentham, Jeremy, 14. 
Benton, Colonel Thomas H. , 137. 
Bickersteth, Henry, his career, 246, 247. 
Bierstadt, Albert, painter, 205. 
Bismarck, Otto von, Prince, 200. 
Black, William, his diligence, 103. 
Blackle, John Stuart, on punctuality, 21 ; 

on application, 92; on overwork, 162, 

177 ; on enthusiasm, 189, 196. 



Blair, Hugh, D.D., 11. 

Bodin, Jean, 252. 

Bolingbroke, Lord, 289, 291. 

Books, their growth, 77; not the only 

means of advancement, 94. 
Booth, Edwin, actor, 287. 
" Bores," 226. 
Borromeo, Frederick, 254. 
Bossuet, his manner, 219, 271. 
Boswell, James, 23. 
Boughton, George, artist, 51. 
Bourdaloue, 62. 
Bowditch, Nathaniel, 12; indebtedness 

to his wife, 100. 
Braddon, Miss, 287. 
Bristed, Charles Astor, 178 ; on American 

manners, 224. 
Bronte", Charlotte, 40; her application, 

82; her "Jane Eyre," 257. 
Brooks, Phillips, D.D., on imitation, 48; 

his enthusiasm, 205; on opportunity, 

Brougham, Lord, his punctuality, 16 ; his 

application, 80; on recreation, 106; 

167, 257. 

Brown, Dr. John, 50. 
Browne, Junius Henri, 89. 
Browning, Elizabeth Barrett, 179. 
Brummell, Beau, 24. 
Brutus, 126. 

Bruyere, Jean de la, 207, 214. 
Bryant, William Cullen, his dread of 

composing, 88. 

Buffon, Count de, his habit, 152. 
Bunsen, 196. 
Bunyan, John, 289. 

Burford, Countess of, her punctuality, 25. 
Burke, Edmund, his style, 50; on Pitt, 

68 ; his application, 80 ; early life, 252. 
Burnet, Bishop, 12. 
Burney, Dr., musician, 14. 
Burns, Robert, his poems, where written, 

154, 271. 

Burr, Aaron, 238. 
Burton, Robert, 290. 
Busch, Dr. Maurice, on Bismarck, 200. 
Butler, Bishop Joseph, 80. 
Butler, Samuel, his habit, 143. 
Buxton, Sir Thomas Fowell, 253. 
Byron, Lord, 17; his preparation for 

work, 53, 127 ; his " Lara," 154 ; habits, 

156; pecuniary reward, 286. 

CABLE, GEORGE W., his application, 85. 
Caesar, Julius, Foster's estimate of, 31; 

his fatal delay, 32; his application, 72, 
106 ; his " Commentaries," 154 ; his 
alertness, 298. 

Calhoun, John C., 73. 

Campbell, Lord, 167. 

Campbell, Thomas, 88, 272. 

Canning, George, 292. 

Carlyle, Thomas, impression given visi- 
tors, 63 ; on work, 69 ; advice concern- 
ing books, 95, 124; on health, 164 ; 241, 

Cervantes, 287. 

Chalmers, Thomas, D.D., 196, 255, 293. 

Charlemagne, 271. 

Charles II. of England, 168, 288. 

Charles V., 33; his motto, 236. 

Chase, Secretary S. P., his strong person- 
ality, 59. 

Chatterton, Thomas, 17. 

Cherubini, composer, 195. 

Chesterfield, Lord, 121; last words, 160 ; 
on manners, 212 ; quoted, 299. 

Choate, Rufus, on manner of presenting 
thought, 41; his application, 73; his 
habit, 147. 

Cicero, his application, 72; his son, 121. 

Clark, Sir Andrew, definition of health, 

Clarke, Samuel, 290. 

Classification, habit of, its value, 139. 

Clay, Henry, his individuality, 58; his 
application, 73 ; his naturalness, 223. 

Clement XIV., Pope, 211. 

Clive, Mrs., on Garrick's acting, 57. 

Clothes, influence of, 207. 

Coke, Sir Edward, 92, 123. 

Colbert, Jean, 250. 

Coleridge, S. T., 118; on style, 223; re- 
mark to Lamb, 227; quoted, 272. 

Collyer, Rev. Robert, on "reserves," 166. 

Colton, C. C., 20, 54; on fine composi- 
tions, 80. 

Columbus, Christopher, 42, 170. 

Combe, George, 132. 

Comte, Auguste, philosopher, 124. 

Confucius, 29. 

Conway, Moncure D., 98. 

Cook, Rev. Joseph, his remarkable mem- 
ory, 140. 

Copernicus, 43. 

Corneille, 53, 279. 

Correggio, painter, 198. 

Couture, Thomas, painter, 198. 

Cunard, Sir Samuel, 133. 

Curran, J. P., 118. 



Cashing, Caleb, 58. 

Cushman, Charlotte, actress, 266, 281. 

DANTE, his application, 89, 194. 

Daubray, actor, his application, 104. 

Daudet, Alphonse, his stories, 147. 

D'Alembert, 288. 

Decision, importance of, 26. 

Delays, dangerous, 32. 

De Foe, Daniel, 288. 

De Maistre, Count Joseph, 236. 

Demosthenes, his application, 82; his 
concentration, 117. 

De Quincey, Thomas, 49, 159, 279. 

Dewey, Dr. Orville, 67. 

Dickens, Charles, 11 ; his personal mag- 
netism, 63 ; his industry, 75 ; his " gol- 
den rules," 76 ; on manuscripts, 80 ; his 
application, 96 ; his perseverance, 131 ; 
his plots, 147 ; bronze figures and blue 
ink, 153; his habit, 159 ; ill-health, 163 ; 
his overwork, 173 ; 204, 273, 286. 

Disraeli, Benjamin (Lord Beaconsfield), 
55, 69, 91 ; his manner, 227 ; his career, 
243; on custom, 251, 257, 286. 

Disraeli, Benjamin, the elder, 286. 

Dixon, Hepworth, 180. 

Doddridge, Dr. Philip, 12. 

Domenichino, painter, 98. 

Drew, Daniel, 12. 

Drew, Samuel, 129. 

Dryden, John, 250. 

Dumas the younger, his habit, 153, 157. 

Dumas the elder, 158. 

EDOEWORTH, MARIA, on promptness, 28. 

Edward III. at Battle of Cregy, 55. 

Eginhard, 271. 

Eldon, Lord, 90; his advice, 92; his op- 
portunity, 267. 

Elgin, Earl of, 106. 

Eliot, George, 39; her application, 85, 
221 ; on daily life, 251. 

Eloquence, its secrets early known, 42. 

Emergencies, when valuable, 95. 

Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 60; on Shake- 
speare, 53; his writings, 53; on self- 
reliance, 55; his application, 84, 95; 
his habit, 146, 149; on Napoleon, 170; 
on health, 176; on the infection of en- 
thusiasm, 194; on Plutarch, 202; on 
manners, 208; on true heroism, 239. 

Enthusiasm, 186-205; not sentimental- 
ism, 188 ; an attribute of greatness, 192 ; 
contagious, 194; its absence a misfor- 

tune, 196; sometimes wanes, 199; in- 
terruptions, 202; effect of surround- 
ings, 203. 

Epaminondas, 122. 

Erskine, Lord, 265, 281. 

Evarts, William M., 125, 167. 

Everett, Edward, 73. 


Farragut, David G., Admiral, 263. 

Field, Cyrus W., ill. 

Field, David Dudley, 181, 184. 

Fielding, 67, 154. 

Fields, James T., on sleep, 177 ; his in- 
fluence on Hawthorne, 256. 

Fisk, James, jun., 12. 

Fisk, Dr. Wilbur, on promptness, 25. 

Foix, Gaston de, 17. 

Foss, Cyrus, D.D., 268. 

Foster, John, essayist, on Julius Caesar, 
31 ; his application, 82 ; aversion to 
writing, 88. 

Fox, Charles James, 58 ; his application, 
83 ; remark concerning Pitt, 139. 

Fox, Capt. G. V., U.S.N., 74. 

Franklin, Dr. Benjamin, 42, 250. 

Frederick the Great, 280; 288. 

Froude, J. A., historian, 124, 151. 

Fulton, Robert, 111 ; 187. 

GAINSBOROUGH, THOMAS, painter, 134, 

Galileo, 43, 169. 

Garfleld, James A., his note-books, 144. 

Garibaldi, 209. 

Garrick, David, actor, his individuality, 
57; his remark on Whitefield, 220; 
naturalness, 222. 

Gautier, Thdophile, 147 ; on Balzac, 155. 

Gavarni, his application, 104, 264. 

Gazzaniga, ginger, 57. 

Genius, 277-294 ; contrasted with talent, 
277 ; attempted definitions of, 278 ; al- 
ways recognized, 280 ; but thus far un- 
explained, 281 ; revealed unexpectedly, 
281 ; ease of accomplishment, 282 ; its 
ideal world, 283; suggestions in com- 
mon events, 284; how estimated by 
certain men, 284 ; pecuniary rewards of, 
285-287 ; its power, 287 ; its relaxations, 
289-292; its simplicity, 292 ; not always 
worshipped, 293; its absent-minded- 
ness, 293. 

George III., remark concerning Justice 
Park, 138. 



Gerster, Etelka, singer, 280, 281. 

Giardlni, 68. 

Gibbon, Edward, historian, 12; his ap- 
plication, 80, 82 ; his habit, 143. 

GilflUan, George, on Napoleon, 111; on 
genius, 279. 

Gladstone, William E., statesman, 183, 

Goethe, on originality, 52 ; on Napoleon, 
61 ; his application, 89 ; his habits, 157 ; 
on weariness, 200 ; remark by, 291. 

Goldsmith, Oliver, his application, 83; 
quoted, 140; his habits, 150, 153, 291. 

Goodrich, Prof. C. A., 259, 274. 

Gosse, Edmund, 91. 

Gould, Jay, financier, 156. 

Graham, Sir James, 167. 

Grandison, Sir Charles, 218. 

Grant, Sir Francis, 106. 

Grant, Ulysses, resemblance to Napoleon 
I., 31; his individuality, 44; his aver- 
sion to war, 89 ; amount of sleep needed, 
176 ; his decision, 184. 

Grattan, Henry, 118. 

Gray, Thomas, 53; his application, 82; 
his " Elegy," 288. 

Great men, how they help us, 53 ; influ- 
enced by their predecessors, 55. 

Greatness, self-consciousness of, 63. 

Greeley, Horace, 21, 22 ; his application, 
96 ; how he evaded interruptions, 99. 

Grenville, 219. 

Grove, Charles, on Beethoven, 102, 249. 

Guests, literary, 229. 

Guizot, M., statesman, 176. 

HABIT, 130-160; its importance, 130; 
how formed, 132-136; increases facil- 
ity, 136; observation, value of, 141; 
note-books, 143; of authors at work, 
146-158; its strange power, 158-160. 

Hall, John, D.D., 300. 

Hallam, Henry, 81. 

Hamerton, Philip Gilbert, on rest, 178. 

Hamilton, on dilatory people, 12. 

Hamilton, Alexander, 17. 

Hamilton, Bear-Admiral, on Farragut, 

Handel, composer, 49; his application, 
98 ; his influence on Hadyn, 195. 

Hannibal, 20, 117, 129. 

Hare, Julius, on enthusiasm, 187. 

Hastings, Lady Elizabeth, her manners, 

Hastings, Warren, 117, 259. 

Hawthorne, Nathaniel, 63; his moods, 
88; his habit, 150; "The Scarlet Let- 
ter," 255; quoted, 272; cited, 284. 

Haydn, composer, his habit, 152, 153; 
his indebtedness to Handel, 195. 

Hayne, Robert Y. , 73, 268. 

Hazlitt, William, 49, 153. 

Health, 161-185 ; its importance, 161 ; of 
professional men, 163-167; not physi- 
cal strength merely, 167 ; not to be dis- 
regarded, 169; too few holidays, 172; 
overwork, 173 ; more sleep, 175 ; value 
of rest, 178; home life, 180; will power, 
181; eating and drinking, 182; "ruts" 
to be avoided, 183 ; exercise, 184. 

Heathcote, inventor, 103. 

Helvetius, 2a 

Henry of Navarre, 20. 

Herbert, Rev. George, 209, 238, 249. 

Herrick, Robert, 15. 

Hesitation, fatal to enterprise, 29. 

Heyne, C. G., 129. 

Hitchcock, Dr. Edward, tribute to his 
wife, 100. 

Hogarth, artist, 144. 

Holland, Dr. J. G, 299. 

Holland, Lady, 254. 

Holland, Lord, his manners, 221. 

Holland, Stewart, 137. 

Holmes, Oliver Wendell, 34; on Edwin 
Arnold, 55; his painstaking, 84; on 
sentiment, 191 ; on the " bore," 226 ; on 
opinions of relatives, 250. 

Homer, 53. 

Hood, E. P., 177. 

Horace, 70; his application, 81; quoted, 
189, 282. 

Horner, Sir Francis, 70. 

Hospitality, Southern, proverbial, 208. 

Houghton, Lord, his charm of manner, 63. 

Howard, John, his punctiliousness, 22. 

Howells, W. D., on reasoning and in- 
tuition, 31; his own instructor, 91. 

Hughes, Thomas, on Charles Kingsley, 

Hugo, Victor, 12, 152 ; his habits of work, 
155, 157, 158. 

Hume, David, historian, his application, 
83 ; on manners, 212. 

Humility, the secret of pleasing, 230. 

Hunt, painter, advice to young artists, 
34; on " finish," 93 ; on simplicity, 125. 

Hunter, John, 54, 135. 

Huxley, Prof. T. H., 171. 

Hyde, Edward, Earl of Clarendon, 17. 



IMPRESSIONS, first, influence of, 207. 

Individuality, 36-65; not "individual- 
ism," 36; always welcome, 36; what 
the world wants, 39 ; knows its oppor- 
tunity, 45; manifest in great parlia- 
mentary leaders, 58 ; dwarfs surround- 
ings, 62 ; its devices, 62 ; its charm, 62 ; 
its power, 62; recognized by Haw- 
thorne, 63 ; not easily analyzed, 63. 

Inertia, cause of its prevalence among 
young men, 10. 

Inness, George, painter, 89. 

Irving, Washington, his habits of work, 
153, 284; " Sketch Book," 257. 

JACKSON, ANDREW, President, 183, 184. 

Jacox, Rev. Francis, 253. 

James, Henry, his application, 85. 

James I. of Scotland, 271. 

Jefferson, Thomas, 17, 182. 

Jeffrey, Francis, 49, 221, 267. 

Jewell, Bishop, 12. 

Johnson, Andrew, President, 184. 

Johnson, Dr. Samuel, 14; reply to Bos- 
well, 24; anecdote of Charles V., 33; 
on Gray's "Elegy," 40; his style, 50; 
on David Garrick, 57 ; on application, 
87; his habits, 159; on external ad- 
vantages, 207. 

Jonson, Ben, 85. 

Joseph, Francis, of Austria, his applica- 
tion, 107. 

Journalists, need of application and much 
learning, 87. 

KANT, philosopher, 158. 

Kean, Edmund, actor, 234. 

Keats, John, his "Ode to the Nightin- 
gale, 154. 

Kemble, John, actor, 250. 

Kingslcy, Canon Charles, 47 ; on reading 
great authors, 49 ; dread of work, 88 ; 
his "intensity," 127; his habits, 148, 
183; on conversation, 224; favourite 
motto, 260. 


Lamartine, Alphonse de, 157, 286. 

Lamb, Charles, 50, 68, 157, 159; reply to 
Coleridge, 227, 293. 

Lawyers, great, their application, 103. 

Legouve\ Ernest W., on self-conscious- 
ness of greatness, 63; on developing 
the voice, 101 ; on use of the breath, 
179, 279. 

Leigh, Pemberton (Baron Kingsdown), 
his application, 94. 

Lely, Sir Peter, painter, 301. 

Lessing, 293. 

Lever, Charles, 149. 

Leverrier, astronomer, 43. 

Lewes, George Henry, on Goethe, 157. 

Libraries, small, not a cause for regret, 

Lind, Jenny (Madame Goldschmidt), her 
application, 101, 278. 

L'Isle, Eouget de, 288. 

Locke, John, 129; bis habit, 143. 

Longfellow, Henry W., 41 ; his applica- 
tion, 84; translation of the "Inferno," 
151; his "Wreck of the Hesperus," 
154; on enthusiasm, 205 ; on "repose," 

Louis XIV., interview with Mansard, 163. 
Lowell, James Russell, 88, 117; on Edgar 

A. Poe, 277. 

Lucca, Pauline, singer, 266. 
Lucretius, 81, 92. 
Ludlow, Fitz-Hugh, 240. 
Lycomedes, 248. 

Lyndhurst, Lord, his application, 103, 167. 
Lytton, Lord, the elder, 81, 286. 
Lytton, Lord (Owen Meredith), 279. 

MACAU LAY, Lord, on Dickens and 
Wordsworth, 40; on Milton, 51; his 
habit, 141 ; bis overwork, 174 ; on Lord 
Somers, 254; his History, 285; his 
leisure moments, 291. 

Machiavelli, Niccolo, his habits, 153, 291. 

Mackintosh, Sir James, 118. 

Macleod, Rev. Norman, 196, 293. 

Magnetism, personal, its power, 62. 

Mahdi, El, his pertinacity, 244. 

Maine, Sir Henry, 61. 

Malibran, her application, 102. 

Manners, 206-231 ; give an immediate 
impression, 207 ; origin of fine manners, 
208; attention to little things, 208 ; how 
acquired, 211 ; neglect of, disastrous, 
213; excess to be shunned, 215; how 
repaid, 216; of the "old school," 218; 
in oratory, 219 ; naturalness, 221 ; in 
conversation, 227; a safeguard, 230; 
not to be escaped, 231. 

Mansfield, Lord, 267, 281. 

Manuscripts, legible and otherwise, 79. 

Marlborough, Duke of, 296. 

" Marseillaise, La," influence of the song, 



Mannont, Marshal, 299. 

Marshall, Chief-Justice, 192. 

Martineau, Harriet, 40, 124. 

Mason, Jeremiah, Webster's eulogy on, 

Massena, Marshal, 58. 

Massillon, his manner, 219. 

Masters of the Situation, 295-302; differ- 
ence in men in native power, 295; 
"genius of hard work," 297 ; numerous 
factors, 298; alertness, 298; health in- 
dispensable, 299; influence of habit, 
300; occasional failure no cause for 
discouragement, 300, 301; incentives 
offered, 301; no antagonism between 
success and Christian character, 301, 

Matthews, Charles, actor, his remarkable 
memory, 141. 

Maurice of Saxony, 17. 

Mazarin, Cardinal, 290. 

Medici, John de (Leo X.), 17. 

Meissonier, painter, his application, 104. 

Memory, serviceable, 139; remarkable 
feats of, 140. 

Mendelssohn, composer, 241. 

Menken, Adah Isaacs, 264. 

Meredith, Owen (Lord Lytton), 279. 

Meyerbeer, composer, 98. 

Midshipmen, duties of, 75. 

Mill, John Stuart, on his own training, 

Milton, John, 51, 157, 170, 250, 277. 

Mirabeau, 30. 

Mole', actor, 216. 

Moltke, Count H. von, 240. 

Montaigne, Michael de, 65, 152. 

Montesquieu, Charles, Baron de, 83, 236. 

Moods, waiting for, 87. 

Moore, Professor, 129. 

Moore, Thomas, 77; on labour, 81; his 
application, 90. 

Morse, Prof. Samuel F. B., 111. 

Motley, J. L., historian, 257, 285. 

Moulton, Louise Chandler, 205. 

Mozart, advice to a young man, 56; on 
work, 98 ; his application, 103. 

Murray, linguist, 129. 

NAPIER, SIR WILLIAM, indebtedness to 
his wife, 99. 

Napoleon I., 15; his celerity of move- 
ment, 15; his courage, 19; perpetual 
activity, 20 ; combination of traits, 31 ; 
instinctive knowledge, 45 ; observa- 

tions on, 59; testimony to Christ's 
divinity, 50 ; Wellington's estimate of 
him, 60; Napier's opinion, 60 ; Goethe's 
observation, 61 ; Emerson's testimony, 
61 ; a great worker, 98. 

Napoleon III., 124, 249. 

Naturalness, its charm, 221. 

Nelson, Lord, his promptness, 15; his 
opportunity, 263. 

Newcastle, Duchess of, 271. 

Newcastle, Duke of, his maxim, 34. 

Newton, Sir Isaac, 43. 

Niebuhr, historian, 126. 

North, Christopher (John Wilson), 169. 

Northcote, painter, 195. 

Note-books, value of, 143. 

OBSERVATION, habit of, its importance, 

Offenbach, composer, 300. 

Ogilby, John, 250. 

Opportunity, 261-276 ; all-important fac- 
tor, 261 ; often neglected, 261 ; ways in 
which it comes, 264 ; of no value to one 
not ready for it, 265; long training 
necessary, 268; should be promptly 
seized, 269; compels recognition, 272; 
a revealer, 273. 

Originality, in what it consists, 52. 

Oxenstiern, 289. 

Oxford, Bishop of, his suggestion, 270. 

Oxford, Lord, 246, 270. 

PALMKRSTON, Lord, 23, 167. 

Paper-making, its development in Amer- 
ica, 105. 

Park, Justice, reply to George III., 138. 

Parton, James, 85, 220, 229. 

Patti, singer, 182, 287. 

Paul, the Apostle, 122. 

Payn, James, on success in fiction, 77, 78. 

Peale, James, painter, 25. 

Peel, Sir Robert, on a certain kind of 
eloquence, 120; his temperament, 254. 

Pelham, Major, 17. 

Pelopidas, 32, 122. 

Pepys, Samuel, 270. 

Perry, Commodore Oliver H., 117. 

Peter the Great, 113, 290. 

Petrarch, his application, 82. 

Pharos, the famous lighthouse, 108. 

Philidas, 33. 

Pinkney, William, lawyer, 168. 

Pitt, William, his first speech, 68, 263; 
Chancellor, 69; Fox's remark, 139; a 



sound sleeper, 176; his opportunity, 
258; private life, 291. 

Plato, 48; his application, 82. 

Pliny, 261. 

Plutarch, 32, 194, 250. 

Poe, Edgar A., 277. 

Pompey, 122. 

Pope, Alexander, 82; his habit, 143. 

" Post-haste," origin of the phrase, 33. 

Poverty a stimulant, 90. 

Praxiteles, 280. 

Precipitation to be avoided, 252. 

Priestley, Dr. Joseph, 154. 

Procopius, 291. 

Procrastination, 9. 

Promptness, 9-35; invaluable to public 
men, 21 ; not punctiliousness, 22 ; punc- 
tuality a debt, 25; decision necessary, 
26; introspection disastrous, 29; hesi- 
tation sometimes constitutional, 31; 
delays dangerous, 32; confers calm- 
ness, 34 ; secret of success in literature, 
34 ; advantage in repartee, 34. 

Protogenes, painter, 155, 194. 

Ptolemy, 43. 

Purpose, controlling, essential to success, 


RACHEL, actress, 64, 272, 280. 

Raleigh, Sir Walter, 194, 271. 

Raphael, his Madonnas, 17; his dying 
thought, 55 ; his influence, 194 ; inimi- 
table, 280. 

Raymond, Henry J., his application, 96. 

Reade, Charles, 10; his habits of work, 
148 ; quoted, 282. 

Reeves, Mrs., on Jenny Lind, 101. 

Rembrandt, painter, 241. 

Remusat, Madame de, 59, 270. 

Reynolds, Sir Joshua, on omnipotence of 
labour, 70; early traits, 134 ; his defini- 
tion of genius, 278. 

Richardson, Dr., 180. 

Richardson, Samuel, 287. 

Richter, Jean Paul, 260. 

Robertson, Rev. Frederick W., how in 
spired for work, 53. 

Rochefoucauld, Francois, Due de la, 204. 

Rockingham, Lord, 252. 

Roebling, Washington A., engineer, 284. 

Romilly, Sir Samuel, 90. 

Roscius, the infant, 245. 

Roscoe, William, 126. 

Rossini, composer, 151, 202. 
Rousseau, J. J., 43; his application, 83. 
Rubini, singer, 57. 
Rudolf of Hapsburg, 254. 
Ruskin, John, 124. 
Russell, Lord, 76. 

Ryder, John, actor, his feat of memoriz- 
ing, 141. 

SALVINI, his painstaking, 97, 249; his 
enthusiasm, 205. 

Sand, George, her habits of work, 157. 

Savage, Richard, 67. 

Scalchi, singer, 182. 

Schiller, 21, 54 ; his habits, 156 ; quoted, 

Scott, Sir Walter, 12, 81; his method, 
142, 157; rejected manuscripts, 257; 
his income, 286. 

Sedie, Delle, singer, 179. 

Self-consciousness to be avoided, 30, 233. 

Self-possession essential to good manners, 

Self-reliance, 44. 

Seneca, 87, 152, 251. 

Sense, good, foundation of true polite- 
ness, 229. 

Seward, William H., his advice, 246. 

Shakespeare, William, 49, 53, 170, 199, 
277, 280, 293. 

Shelley, Percy Bysshe, 17 ; his " Revolt 
of Islam," 154; his habit, 156; quoted, 

Sheridan, General Philip, 32, 195. 

Sheridan, Richard Brinsley, 67 ; his ap- 
plication, 83; his purpose, 117; perse- 
verance, 256, 259. 

Sherman, General William T., letter to 
Grant, 31, 44, 122 ; on Vicksburg cam- 
paign, 45. 

Siddons, Mrs., actress, 250. 

Sidney, Sir Philip, 17. 

Single eye, the, 109-130; confers rare 
power, 111-114; how men differ, 114; 
useless loads, 119; specialties neces- 
sary, 120; desirable in literature, 123, 
125 ; creates its own solitude, 126 ; its 
sway, 128; necessary to success, 129, 

Smiles, Samuel, on importance of health 
to professional men, 166; on Bicker- 
steth, 246. 

Smith, Bishop B. B., 168. 

Smith, Rev. Sidney, 29 ; remedy for mel- 
ancholy, 34 ; on following one's adap- 



tations, 41; on timid people, 42; on 
industry of famous men, 81 ; on study, 
116; on illusions, 187; his classifica- 
tion, 196, 219; on "hardness," 222; on 
shyness, 223 ; on English manners, 225 ; 
on discouragements, 239; on labour, 
242; his temperament, 254; absent- 
mindedness, 293. 

Socrates, 122, 278. 

South, Eobert, D.D., 119, 206. 

Southey, Eobert, 81, 151, 288. 

Spelman, Sir Henry, 250. 

Spencer, Herbert, his ill-health, 163, 173. 

Spinoza, philosopher, 124. 

Stanhope, Lady Hester, 291. 

Steele, Sir Richard, 67; on good-breed- 
ing, 214, 215, 219. 

Stephenson, George, 111. 

Stephenson, Eobert, his application, 86. 

Sterling, Edward, 107. 

Stewart, A. T., merchant, 104, 136. 

Storrs, Eev. R. S., 116. 

Story, William W., sculptor, 270. 

Stuart, Charles, of England, 20. 

Study, real, its value, 91. 

Style, in what it consists, 50. 

Sully, Thomas, artist, on English man- 
ners, 223. 

Sumner, Charles, his prompt reply, 35; 
his self-discipline, 140. 

Superiority of certain products, the secret 
of, 105. 

Surrey, Lord, 271. 

Swift, Dean, 210, 288. 

TALMA, actor, 179. 

Taney, Roger B., Chief-Justice, 168. 

Tasso, his application, 82. 

Taylor, Rev. William M., 300. 

Temple, Sir William, 290. 

Tennyson, Alfred, 84, 89 ; his habit, 140 ; 
pecuniary rewards, 285. 

Tenterden, Lord, 159. 

Thackeray, William M., manner of com- 
posing, 87; remarks, 229, 241; his 
" Vanity Fair," 257. 

Thayer, on Beethoven, 102. 

Themistocles, 119. 

Thiers, historian, 286. 

Thinking, hard work, 39. 

Thoreau, H. D., 249. 

Thorwaldsen, sculptor, 157, 283. 

Thucydides, 82, 271. 

Thurlow, Lord Chancellor, 90, 267. 

Titian, painter, 70, 198, 288. 

Todd, Rev. John, on punctuality, 16 ; his 
rule, 21. 

Tourgue'neff, Ivan, 212. 

Townsend, George Alfred, his note-books, 

Trevelyan, George Otto, 49. 

Trollope, Anthony, on waiting for moods, 
87; his custom, 151; pecuniary gains, 

Twain, Mark (S. L. Clemens), his indi- 
viduality, 37 ; his expedient to obtain 
seclusion, 98, 249. 

Tyler, John, President, 58. 


Vanderbilt, William K., 107. 

Varillas, 215. 

Vega, Lope de, his application, 80. 

Verdi, composer, 46; his habit, 146. 

Vernet, Horace, painter, 142. 

Veronese, Paul, painter, 198. 

Villemain, 217. 

Vinci, Leonardo da, painter, 123; his 

habit, 143 ; his Mona Lisa, 284. 
Virgil, 81. 
Voltaire, 81; on secret of tiring, 228; 

composing during sleep, 271. 
Von Bulow, musician, 102. 

WAONER, RICHARD, composer, 64. 

" Wait ! " 232-260 ; a most important les- 
son, 233 ; " short-cuts," 234 ; a national 
want ; 235 ; the waiting years most im- 
portant, 238 ; hours of depression uni- 
versal, 240, 241 ; courage needed, 243 ; 
persistency triumphs in the end, 244; 
one must "bide his time," 244-247; 
slow growth of character, 247, 248; 
opinions of relatives, 250-252 ; precipi- 
tation disastrous, 252 ; famous authors, 
257 ; great men conscious of their own 
powers, 258 ; waiting pays, 259. 

Waldegrave, Lord, 289. 

Waller, his application, 82. 

Walpole, Sir Robert, 55, 291. 

Walton, Izaak, 88. 

Ward, Artemus (Charles F. Browne), 175. 

Washington, Mrs. George, her punctu- 
ality, 25. 

Waterloo, 65. 

Wayland, Francis, D.D., 70. 

Webster, Daniel, at Marshfleld, 12; his 
promptness, 18; his study of others, 
51; reply to Hayne, 71; eulogy on 
Jeremiah Mason, 105; physical powers, 



167 ; his habits, 176 ; his accurate know- 
ledge, 238; hie modesty, 258, 268; his 
sensitiveness, 274. 

Wellington, Duke of, his rapid march in 
India, 15; on Massena, 58; on corre- 
spondence, 100; attention to details, 
137; a good sleeper, 177; politeness, 

West, Benjamin, painter, 134. 

West Point, superiority of systematic 
training, 137. 

Westbury, Lord, 292. 

Whately, Richard, Archbishop, 104. 

Whitefleld, George, 142, 220. 

Whipple, E. P., on Hawthorne, 256. 

Whittier, John G., 262. 

Willis, N. P., 85. 

Willson, Marcius, 287. 

Wirt, William, lawyer, 270, 298. 
Wise, Henry A., 58. 
Wolfe, General James, 288. 
Wolsey, Cardinal, 296. 
Wordsworth, William, 92 ; his habit, 151 ; 
quoted, 264; his opinion of Shake- 

Workers, hard, their various expedients, 

Working-power, importance of training, 



YOUTH, its great achievements, 16. 


Zola, iWle, 300. 

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With 16 Illustrations. Foolscap 
8vo, cloth extra. Price Is. 6d. 

"An instructive as well as interesting 
little book, giving an account, not only 
of genuine sea monsters and the huge 
snakes of Brazilian rivers, but also of 
real or fabled appearances of the great 
sea-serpent that has yet to be caught." 

In the Polar Regions ; or, Nature 
and Natural History in the Frozen 
Zones. With Anecdotes and 
Stories of Adventure and Travel. 
46 Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth 
extra. Price 2s. 6d. 

In the Tropical Regions; or, 

Nature and Natural History in 
the Torrid Zone. With Anec- 
dotes and Stories of Adventure 
and Travel. 78 Illustrations. 
Post 8vo, cloth extra. 2s. 6d. 

In the Temperate Regions ; or, 
Nature and Natural History in 
the Temperate Zones. With 
Anecdotes and Stories of Adven- 
ture and Travel. 72 Illustrations. 
Post 8vo, cloth extra. 2s. 6d. 

"In the Polar," "In the Tropical," 
and "In the Temperate Regions," are 
three companion volumes, though each is 
complete in itself. The full title suggests 
the character of the books. Theij are re- 
plete with information on the animal and 
vegetable life of the countries described, 
and abound in illustrations in elucida- 
tion of the text. Good books either for 
school or home libraries. 

Gaussen's World's Birthday. Il- 
lustrated. Foolscap 8vo. 2s. 6d. 

Lectures delivered to art audience of 
young people, in Geneva, on the first 
chapter of Genesis. The discoveries of 
astronomical and geological science are 
simply explained, and harmonized with 
the statements of Scripture. 

Nature's Wonders ; or, How God's 
Works Praise Him. By the Rev. 
53 Engravings. Post 8vo. 2s. 6d. 

Addresses to young persons, on various 
subjects of science and natural history, 
to show "how God's works praise him." 
With illustrative anecdotes and engrav- 


Travel and Adventure. 

Jack Hooper. His Adveitures at 
Sea and in South Africa. By 
D. C. L. , Commander Royal Navy; 
Author of "Across Africa," "Our 
Future Highway," etc. With 23 
Full-page Illustrations. Crown 
8vo, cloth extra, gilt edges. 5s. 
" Our author has the immense advan- 
tage over many writers of boys' stones 
that he describes what he has seen, and 
does not merely draw ow his imagination 
and on books." SCOTSMAN. 

With Pack and Rifle in the Far 
South - West. Adventures in 
New Mexico, Arizona, and 
Central America. By ACHILLES 
DAUNT, Author of "Frank Red- 
cliffe," "In the Land of the 
Moose, the Bear, and the Beaver," 
"The Three Trappers," etc. 
With 30 Illustrations. Crown 
8vo, cloth extra, gilt edges. 5s. 
A delightful book of travel and adven- 
ture, with much valuable information as 
to the geography and natural history of 
the wild American " Far West." 

The Eastern Archipelago. By 

the Author of "The Arctic 
World," "Recent Polar Voy- 
ages," etc. With 60 Engravings 
and a Map. Crown 8vo, cloth 
extra, gilt edges. Price 5s. 

A description of the scenery, animal 
and vegetable life, people, and physical 
wonders of the islands in the Eastern 

Early English Voyagers ; or, The 
Adventures and Discoveries of 
Drake, Cavendish, and Dampier. 
Numerous Illustrations. Crown 
8vo, cloth extra, gilt edges. 5s. 
The title of this work describes the con- 
tents. It is a handsome volume, which 
will be a valuable gift for young persona 
generally, and boys in particular. There 
are included many interesting illustra- 
tions and portraits of the three great 

Our Sea Coast Heroes; or, Tales 
of Wreck and of Rescue by the 
Lifeboat and Rocket. By ACHIL- 
LES DAUNT, Author of ' ' Frank 
Redcliffe," "With Pack and 
Rifle in the Far South-West," etc. 
With numerous Illustrations. 
Post 8vo, cloth extra. 2s. 6d. 

The Forest, the Jungle, and the 
Prairie ; or, Tales of Adventure 
and Enterprise in Pursuit of Wild 
Animals. With numerous En- 
gravings. Post 8vo, cloth extra. 
Price 2s. 6d. 

A party of iveather-bound schoolboys 
are here supposed to relate in turn the 
stories that form the book. They are full 
of romantic adventure and deeds of dar- 
ing ; but at the same time they are true, 
and cannot be read without imparting 
valuable information on natural history. 

Scenes with the Hunter and the 
Trapper in Many Lands. Stories 
of Adventures with Wild Ani- 
mals. With Engravings. Post 
8vo, cloth extra. Price 2s. 6d. 

A party of school-boys spend some of 
their half-holidays in relating to one 
another stories of adventure in search of 
wild animals. These stories, though often 
full of romantic and stirring incidents, 
are all true. They cannot fail to be 
attractive to young readers. 

The Swiss Family Robinson ; or, 
Adventures of a Father and his 
Four Sons on a Desolate Island. 
Illustrated. Post 8vo, cloth ex- 
tra. Price 2s. 6d. 

A cheap edition of this well-known 
work. As the title suggests, its character 
is somewhat similar to that of tht famous 
"Robinson Crusoe." It combines, in a 
high degree, the two desirable qualities in 
a book, instruction and amusement. 

Sandford and Merton. A Book 
for the Young. By THOMAS DAY. 
Illustrated. Post 8vo, cloth ex- 
tra. Price 2s. 6d. 


Stories of Noble Lives. 

The Story of Audubon, The Na- 
turalist. Royal 18mo, cloth extra. 
Price Is. 

The Story of Benvenuto Cellini, 
The Italian Goldsmith. Royal 
18mo, cloth extra. Price Is. 

The Story of Galileo, The Astro- 
nomer of Pisa. Royal 18mo, 
cloth extra. Price Is. 

The Story of the Herschels A 
Family of Astronomers. Royal 
18mo, cloth extra. Price Is. 

The Story of John Howard, The 
Prison Reformer. Royal 18mo, 
cloth extra. Price Is. 

The Story of Palissy, The Potter. 
Royal 18mo, cloth extra. Is. 

The Story of Scoresby, The Arctic 
Navigator. Royal 18mo, cloth 
extra. Price Is. 

The Story of John Smeaton and 
the Eddystone Lighthouse. Royal 
18mo, cloth extra. Price Is. 

It is scarcely possible to provide the 
young with reading more beneficial and 
stimulating in character than that which 
is afforded by the lives of great and good 
men. The biographies of this series are 
pleasantly written, and contain a large 
store of useful information. The books 
are produced in a style rendering them 
particularly suitable for rewards or 

The Rocket ; or, The Story of the 
Stephensons, Father and Son. 
By H. C. KNIGHT. Illustrated. 
Royal 18mo, cloth extra. Is. 

" A capital little biography of a life 
all boys should be familiar with." S. S. 

" The edition before us contains an 
additional chapter, in which the autlwr 
speaks of the recent Stephenson centenary, 
and the development of the great work 
originated by the man who was once a 

The Search for Franklin. With 
Engravings from Designs by the 
Artist of the Expedition. Royal 
18mo, cloth extra. Price Is. 

" Our boys cannot do better than read 
this narrative. It will nerve them, we 
trust, to deeds of high moral daring." 

No Gains Without Pains ; or, The 
Story of Samuel Budgett, the 
Successful Merchant. By H. C. 
KNIGHT. Royal 18mo, cloth ex- 
tra. Price Is. 

Jane Taylor : Her Life and Letters. 
(One of the Authors of " Original 
Poems for Infant Minds.") By 
H. C. KNIGHT, Author of "No 
Gains without Pains," "The 
Rocket," etc. Post 8vo. Is. 

A most interesting biography, for young 
readers, of this talented and Christian 

Life and Travel in Tartary, 
Thibet, and China. Being a 
Narrative of the Abbe" Hue's 
Travels in the Far East. By M. 
JONES. With Coloured Frontis- 
piece and numerous Engravings. 
Royal 18mo. Price Is. 

The information is varied and full of 
lively incidents, and much useful know- 
ledge is compressed into its pages. 

Stories of Invention, told by In- 
ventors and their Friends. By 
EDWARD E. HALE. With numer- 
ous Illustrations. Post 8vo, cloth 
extra. Price 2s. 6d. 

" We have seldom met with a book 
which has given us greater pleasure. It 
is full of incidents and anecdotes, which 
are selected and well told. There are no 
dull pages." SWORD AND TROWEL. 

Triumphs of Invention and Dis- 
covery. By J. HAMILTON FYFE. 
Illustrated. Post 8vo. 2s. 6d. 

Rise and progress described of the art 
of printing, the electric telegraph, manu- 
factures of cotton, silk, iron, etc. 


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